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What is Abstract Thinking and Why Is It Important (10 Questions)

5 min read

what is abstract thinking

What is abstract thinking? In broad terms, abstract thinking involves being able to think about things in a non-concrete yet conceptual way. It’s the ability to see the big picture and come up with creative solutions to problems.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss what abstract thinking is, and I’ll explore why it’s so important. I’ll also provide tips for how you can improve your own abstract thinking skills.

Alright, let’s get into it.

What is meant by abstract thinking?

Abstract thinking is a way of using your brain to see things differently. It’s a type of problem-solving that uses imagination and doesn’t involve realistic or tangible concepts — in other words, not just relying on what you can see or experience.

Abstract thinking means looking beyond what’s concrete and tangible, like a book or laptop, and exploring things that are not physical and require deeper consideration.

Abstract thinking challenges us to think beyond the obvious. It encourages us to consider concepts like equality, decision-making, value systems, and patterns.

To do this, we need to use our reasoning skills to come up with new ideas or reach conclusions based on existing information.

This is different from concrete thinking, which focuses mainly on tangible things in the world around us, like the previously mentioned books or laptop; it’s focused on less tangible topics that require imagination and open-mindedness in order for us to explain or explore them further.

What is an example of abstract thinking?

When you’re asked to think of a creative solution to a complex problem at work, that’s when abstract thinking really comes in handy.

Cognitive tasks like strategy games require abstract thinking, as well as activities like making sculptures out of ordinary household items or writing poetry.

Abstract thinking is also essential for inventors and scientists to develop the new ideas and innovations that people depend on for daily life since these often involve theories and concepts that are not things we can actually observe.

In short, abstract thinking is all about using your creativity to come up with original ideas, even when the answers may not be obvious or physical.

How do I know if I am an abstract thinker?

When you come up with creative ideas, do you think in a way that’s out-of-the-box or different from what’s commonly done? If so, you’re an abstract thinker.

If you’re wondering if you are an abstract thinker, here are some other characteristics:

  • Recognizing patterns
  • Seeing further than the literal meaning of something
  • Understanding complex concepts in creative ways

To help yourself further assess whether you’re an abstract thinker, try doing activities like brainstorming new ideas, critical problem-solving, or practicing creative writing.

What is abstract thinking in mental health?

Abstract thinking is a way of looking at the world and coming up with views and ideas that go beyond what’s immediately in front of us.

In mental health, abstract thinking can help you make connections between different types of information — like how your thoughts and feelings might be connected — so that the big picture makes more sense.

It can also help you better understand why other people think differently than you do.

There are lots of benefits to developing abstract thinking skills, but it can be challenging too.


People disagree with each other’s views sometimes, which means that developing strong abstract thinking skills requires us to be open-minded and willing to accept different perspectives — which, for many people — can be hard to do.

What kind of people are abstract thinkers?

Abstract thinkers are people who can understand and make connections between concepts that may not be related on the surface.

They’re great problem solvers since they can break down a challenge into smaller pieces and figure out how to put them back together in a meaningful way.

People who prefer abstract thinking often have strong creative abilities and excellent communication skills and enjoy looking for unseen patterns and relationships between ideas.

Occupations and careers in science, engineering, the arts, and education are often good fits for an abstract thinker’s talents.

What is the opposite of abstract thinking?

The opposite of abstract thinking is concrete thinking, which is much more down-to-earth.

Concrete thinking focuses on what you can see, hear and touch right in front of you. It’s like a science experiment where you focus on the details and make conclusions based on facts.

The main difference between abstract and concrete thinking is that abstract thinking usually deals with ideas that don’t necessarily have one true answer, while concrete thinking looks for evidence and results that can prove something one way or another.

Are abstract thinkers creative?

When it comes to creativity, abstract thinkers are sometimes seen as being the most inventive because they can break away from conventional thought and find solutions that other people may not think of.

For example, Albert Einstein used abstract thought to develop groundbreaking theories about space and time.

This example shows how powerful abstract thinking can be when it comes to unleashing creativity.

Which personality type is best at abstract thinking?

Individuals of any personality type can be good at abstract thinking, as cognitive abilities are influenced by various factors like experience, education, and individual differences.

However, some personality types may be more naturally inclined toward abstract thinking based on their preferences and cognitive functions.

In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) framework, Intuitive (N) types are generally associated with a greater inclination toward abstract thinking.

They tend to focus on the big picture, concepts, and ideas rather than on concrete details.

Specifically, the types with dominant or auxiliary Extraverted Intuition (Ne) or Introverted Intuition (Ni) may exhibit stronger abstract thinking abilities.

These types include:

  • ENTP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)
  • INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)
  • ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)
  • INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)
  • ENTJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)
  • INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)
  • ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)
  • INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)

Among these types, INTPs and INTJs are often considered particularly strong in abstract thinking, as they combine their Intuition preference with a preference for Thinking (T), which focuses on logical analysis and problem-solving.

Again, it’s important to note that individuals from any personality type can excel at abstract thinking with the right nurturing, experience, and practice.

The MBTI is just one way to understand patterns in human cognition and behavior.

What part of the brain controls abstract thought?

Neuroscientists have identified a few regions of the brain that are integral in helping us think abstractly, like the prefrontal cortex.

It’s believed that this area helps us connect information between various senses, memories, and experiences so that we’re better able to apply abstract thought.

Another region associated with abstract thinking is the parietal lobe which assists in understanding concepts related to spatial processing and language — both areas of higher cognitive reasoning.

So, while abstract thought can be pretty complex and isn’t always easy, you now understand how your brain is composed of some really powerful parts that help make it all happen!

What is the difference between a literal thinker and an abstract thinker?

A literal thinker is someone who interprets language and concepts in a very concrete, straightforward manner.

They tend to take things at face value and focus on the exact words that are spoken or written.

They may struggle with understanding jokes or sarcasm, as well as figurative language and metaphors.

On the other hand, an abstract thinker is someone who is able to see the big picture and conceptualize ideas beyond the literal meaning of words.

They’re able to think creatively and outside the box and can usually grasp complex or abstract concepts with ease.

They also may enjoy exploring hypothetical scenarios or coming up with new ideas and solutions to problems.


Abstract thinking is a complex cognitive process that helps us make sense of the world around us and think outside the box. To strengthen your ability to think abstractly, it’s important to practice, be open to new experiences, and keep learning.

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