Thinking refers to a pattern of behavior in which we make use of internal representations of the things and events for the solution of some specific purposeful problems. Thinking is a process of internal representation of external events (Belonging to past, present and future).

Thinking in terms of problem –solving behavior. Thinking is behavior which is often implicit and hidden and in which symbols (Images, ideas, concepts) are ordinarily employed. Thinking is an implicit problem solving behavior.

According to Ross(1951), “ Thinking is mental activity in its cognitive aspect or mental activity with regard to psychological objects”

According to Gilmer (1970), “Thinking is a problem-solving process in which we use ideas or symbols in place of overt activity”

Nature of Thinking

  • Thinking is essentially a cognitive activity.
  • It is always directed to achieve some end or purpose.
  • Thinking is described as a problem-solving behavior.
  • In thinking there is mental exploration instead of motor exploration.
  • Thinking is a symbolic activity.
  • Thinking can shift very rapidly, covering an expanse of time and space.

Elements of thought (Tools of Thinking)

The various elements involved in the thinking process may be summarized as under. In this process of thinking we usually rely on these elements or tools.

1. Images:

Image, as mind pictures, consist of personal experiences of objects, persons or scenes once actually seen, heard or felt. These mind pictures symbolize the actual objects, experiences and activities.

2. Concepts:

A concept is a ‘general ides’ that stands for a general class and represents the common property of all the objects or events of this general class. The concepts as a tool economise our efforts in thinking.

3. Symbols and sign:

Symbols and signs represent and stand as substitutes for actual objects, experiences and activities. Traffic lights, railway signals, school bells, badges, songs, flags and slogans all stand for the symbolic expression.

4. Language:

Language is the most efficient and developed vehicles used for carrying out the process of thinking.

5. Muscle activities:

A high positive correlation has been found to exist between the thinking and muscular activities of an individuals.

6. Brain functions:

Thinking is primarily a function of our brain. Our mind or brain is said to be the chief instrument for carrying out the process of thinking.

Types of Thinking

  1. Perceptual or concrete thinking:
  2. Conceptual or abstract thinking
  3. Reflective thinking:
  4. Creative thinking
  5. Non-directed or associative thinking