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Convergent and divergent production

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Convergent and divergent production are the two types of human response to a set problem that were identified by J. P. Guilford.

Convergent production is the deductive generation of the best single answer to a set problem, usually where there is a compelling inference. For example, find answers to the question What is the sum of the internal angles of a triangle?

Divergent production is the creative generation of multiple answers to a set problem. For example, find uses for 1 metre lengths of black cotton.

Guilford observed that most individuals display a preference for either convergent or divergent thinking. Scientists and engineers typically prefer the former and artists and performers, the latter.

There is a movement in education that maintains divergent thinking might create more resourceful students. Rather than presenting a series of problems for rote memorization or resolution, divergent thinking presents open-ended problems and encourages students to develop their own solutions to problems.

According to Guilford College[1], divergent or synthetic thinking is the ability to draw on ideas from across disciplines and fields of inquiry to reach a deeper understanding of the world and one's place in it.


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