Abstract thinking is a high-level thought process. Someone who is thinking abstractly is considering a concept in a broad, general and non-specific way. Abstract thinking is the opposite of concrete thinking, which often relies just on facts or the basics of what can be seen with the eye.
Depth of Thought
Abstract thinking considers not just specific objects (for example, a robin), but broad concepts (such as birds in general). When looking at an abstract painting, for instance, the viewer creates within his mind a concept of what the painting is about.
Many people who are very creative, musical, artistic or talented in one area or another are considered abstract thinkers. They are required to utilize their depth of thought to produce their content.
Specificity of Thought
Ideas that are broad in scope can be thought of generally, rather than specifically. Instead of just contemplating one cat, the abstract thinker will think about the nature of cats, their habits, preferences, and characteristics.
Facts vs. Multiple Meanings
Concrete thinking is mainly interested in the facts, such as the fact that a black cat is a black cat. Examples of abstract thinking might include types of black cats, that black cats are considered unlucky by some people, that the ancient Egyptians revered cats and created black statues of a cat goddess.
Happiness, freedom, weather, and wealth are all examples of abstract nouns. They are broad concepts with a variety of definitions, possible interpretations and permutations that can all be considered through abstract thinking. Another reason they are considered abstract is because they may have different meanings based on where you live, how you grew up, what you value and more. All of these factors can influence the way you think about an abstract idea.
Since graduating from New York University with her Bachelor of Arts in 1996, Evelyn Trimborn has written both fiction and nonfiction for many websites and blogs on health, diet, nutrition, self-help, and business and finance. Her work has appeared on Amazon and at Healthful-Goddess.com, TreatAcneToday.com, InsiderSecretsCorp.com and Career-Command.com.