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How Are Creative Thinking And Critical Thinking Similarities

Creative Thinking vs Critical Thinking

Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking are two expressions that show the difference between them when it comes to their inner meanings. Creative Thinking is going beyond the limitations and being original and fresh in one’s ideas. Critical Thinking, on the other hand, is more evaluative in nature and analyses a particular thing. Hence, one can conclude that while Creative thinking is generative in purpose, Critical Thinking is analytical in purpose. This is one of the main differences between creative thinking and critical thinking. This article attempts to provide an understanding of the two terms while elaborating the difference.

What is Creative Thinking?

First let us pay attention to Creative Thinking. In schools and even in universities the students are asked to be creative in their thoughts. This highlights a need to be original and to think outside of the box. If a person is continuously paying attention to the limitations and boundaries, it is quite difficult to be creative. Creative thinking is non-judgmental and expansive. There is no end to creative thinking. In fact, it can be said that the sky is the limit for creative thinking. This is the specialty of Creative thinking. It allows the person to break away from the usual barriers and imagine the unimaginable. Also, Creative thinking is not selective. The mind is free to think anything creative in the case of creative thinking. Unlike in the case of Critical thinking where you are bound to make some choices, in Creative Thinking it is different. Various kinds of choices are not made in the case of creative thinking. In fact, creative thinking aims at generating new and thought provoking ideas. This is why one can claim that creative thinking is all about imagination and imagery. Hence, it is best suited to creative arts like poetry and painting.

What is Critical Thinking?

Now let us move on to Critical Thinking. Unlike in the case of Creative thinking, Critical thinking adopts a much more rigid position. One of the features of Critical thinking is that it is not so expansive like creative thinking. In fact, it can be said that critical thinking is judgmental in nature. It is interesting to note that critical thinking is selective too. On the other hand, creative thinking is not selective. It is quite free by nature. The mind is free to think anything creative in the case of creative thinking. On the contrary, the mind is limited to think in the case of critical thinking. Creative thinking is employed in areas such as poetry, novel writing, short story writing and fiction writing. On the other hand, critical thinking is employed in organizations, business areas and the like. Critical thinking is aimed at improving the quality of products produced by a company, customer care service, and the like. It analyses the factors governing the process of running a company. One can claim that when being critical, a person is employed in a process of assessing rather than imagining. He would be analytical and break down a particular concept into various parts and analyze them. This includes paying attention to the plus and minus, the pros and cons, when thinking critically. As human beings, we need to have some ability for both creative and critical thinking. Now let us sum up the differences in the following manner.

What is the Difference Between Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking?

• Creative thinking is generative in purpose whereas critical thinking is analytical in purpose.
• Critical thinking is selective, but creative thinking is not selective.
• The mind is free to wander about in Creative thinking, but in the case of Critical thinking it is not so.

Image Courtesy:

1.”HenryMoore RecliningFigure 1951″. [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2.Filos Segundo Logo by Filosofias filosoficas [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed Under: BehaviourTagged With: creative thinking, Critical thinking

I was recently asked by a colleague what the difference is between the three types of thinking discussed in this blog thus far:

  • Critical Thinking
  • MetaCognition
  • Creative Thinking

Although I go in depth about each one in previous entries here, here, and here, defining them here in one post can give us clarity.

This the way I see it is outline briefly below.

Critical Thinking

This type of thinking requires that students objectively judge new information for its credibility and integrity. This skill is used to piece together information from multiple sources and to make sense of a concept.


An educator provides an article to students and asks them to evaluate the credibility of the source and to identify any bias. They are also asked to identify how the content of the article fits in with their frame of reference…and to be objective about their own stance.


This type of thinking, is “thinking about thinking”. It’s an awareness of the approach one takes towards a task or problem. I see it as a closed loop. A student develops an approach, implements it, and then evaluates it for effectiveness. Metacognition plays a large role in Learning to Learn.


An educator asks the students to take a quiz about their learning styles and to identify their approach to a certain project based on the quiz and their previous experiences. The students implement a strategy and then are asked to review how it worked for them.

Creative Thinking

This type of thinking is about coming up with new ideas/solutions with no judgements of whether they are good or bad.


An educator provides students with a problem. For example, “How to solve poverty” and students come up with solutions. Instructional strategies that foster creative thinking would be used.


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