Critical and creative thinking are two different ways of processing information but they can be used together and work well when combined. Critical thinking allows you to evaluate the ideas that your creative thoughts have come up with. Critical thinking enables you to decide which is the best solution. When you think critically you glean information. When you think creatively you come up with new solutions to problems.
If you are a critical thinker you examine the situation and facts and think in a linear and rational way. The critical thinker gathers information, analyzes it and evaluates it. If you think critically you are able to separate fact from opinion. You like details and clear-cut information.
Creative thinkers tend to be imaginative and like to brainstorm. A creative thinker looks at things from various perspectives, coming up with ideas and making novel and uncharacteristic connections. The creative thinker often goes against standard views and is apt to take risks. A creative person is curious. He likes a challenge, seeks out problems to solve and is imaginative.
Characteristics of a critical thinker include judgment, selectivity and being analytical. The critical thinker is objective. Critical thinking means you are making a choice.
Creative thinking involves creating new ideas. A creative thinker is open, nonjudgmental and capable of productive thought. The creative thinker strives to find several answers to a problem rather than just one. He likes to explore and come up with possibilities.
Other differences in critical thinking versus creative thinking include thinking vertically (critical thinker) and thinking laterally (creative thinker); being focused (critical thinker) and being diffuse (creative thinker); and being verbal (critical) versus being visual (creative), according to the Virtual Salt website.
Left Brain Versus Right Brain
Critical thinking is orderly. The thinker progresses from A to B to C, doing so in a straight line. When you are thinking critically you are using the left part of the brain. The creative thinker uses the right side of the brain and does not process information in a linear fashion. Critical thinking demands purposeful and calculated effort and requires concentration. Creative thinking can happen in your sleep.
Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.