Divergent Learning vs. Convergent Learning ( Wikipedia )

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.
It is often used in conjunction with convergent thinking, which follows a particular set of logical steps to arrive at one solution, which in some cases is a "correct" solution.

Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that many ideas are generated in an emergent cognitive fashion. Many possible solutions are explored in a short amount of time, and unexpected connections are drawn. After the process of divergent thinking has been completed, ideas and information are organized and structured using convergent thinking.
( From Wikipedia )

The concept of divergent thinking was developed in the 1950s by psychologist J.P. Guilford, who saw it as a major component of creativity and associated it with four main characteristics. The characteristics were:

  1. fluency (the ability to rapidly produce a large number of ideas or solutions to a problem);
  2. flexibility (the capacity to consider a variety of approaches to a problem simultaneously);
  3. originality (the tendency to produce ideas different from those of most other people);
  4. elaboration (the ability to think through the details of an idea and carry it out).

(From the Encyclopedia of Psychology at Enotes.com)


Divergence and Convergence (changingminds.org )==
When we are exploring and making decisions, we use two generic processes: divergence and convergence, that have quite different thinking methods.

When you need to explore and find new things, you use Divergent approaches. This is a process of looking for options, new ideas and so on.
Some people prefer diverging, as it means the potential of a wrong decision is never reached. These people often have a preference for perceiving.

Being open

An important first step of divergent thinking is to be open. As a cognitive state, in involves temporarily suspending judgment and deliberately opening yourself up to new thoughts and ideas.
If you are seeking to change someone else's mind, then opening them up to the thought of new thoughts is often an important first step and may need a little practice before moving onto the main topic.


Creative generation of ideas is a classic divergent activity, although it is not the only one. In creative sessions, ideas are generated without judgment or thought about which works best - those are put off for later sessions.

Convergence is the opposite of divergence. When you are thinking convergently, you are seeking a conclusion, an answer, and closure on the topic in question.
People who rapidly seek convergence often have a preference for the structure of judging.

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Divergent Learning


  1. Convergent vs. Divergent Thinking Styles www.learningandteaching.info
  2. How To Understand Convergent Thinking Vs. Divergent Thinking ehow.com
  3. http://changingminds.org/explanations/decision/divergence_convergence.htm
  4. Wikipedia: Divergent Thinking