Analytical Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Thinking is the mental activity that allows us to build hypotheses about the world and the way of thinking about it through reasoning, reflection, imagination and memory. But in thinking we may commit, even unconsciously, many mistakes: our hypotheses may be false, our memories imperfect and our imagination distant from reality. We tend to process data and information incorrectly by making incorrect inferences and making incongruous decisions.

When faced with a problem, the prevailing form of thinking is often of a mechanical type: problems with similar features are recalled in order to adopt the same solutions. We go in search of already known patterns, relationships between facts and situations we have already seen, which allow us to identify a solution without wasting too much cognitive energy.
But in this way reasoning is simplified and complexity is reduced without full understanding of the problem and its causes.

Analytical thinking, on the other hand, helps us to break down the facts in a detailed, sequential, systematic way, to identify priorities on a logical-rational basis. Thanks to the linearity of analytic thinking, there is an awareness of the cause-effect relationships between phenomena and an understanding of the steps included in the analysis: the single steps are analysed along a straight line without mixing up the order to prevent fractures or contradictions.

Analytical thinking may go hand in hand with critical thinking, i.e., the ability to analyse situations and scenarios by questioning hypotheses, memories and imagination, without taking an excessively negative approach. Critical thinking goes in search of errors, inconsistencies, weaknesses and contrasts heuristics and systematic mistakes and, for this reason, it accepts all information, evaluates it and then discards the unreliable pieces of information and doubtful information where there is indecision, while retaining information that has been validated.

Analytical thinking is based on evidence and not on emotions, on rationality and not on intuition. It is vertical, rational and reflective thinking focused on deciding what to think or what to do. Data processing takes place through deductions and careful analysis of facts, events and phenomena. But not all choices and problems may be solved by appealing to logic and rational thinking. The secret to making good decisions is knowing when to rely on analytical thinking and when to open up to emotions by trusting our intuitions (lateral thinking).