Watch me come undone 

I just read a paper on thinking styles. 

Two types of thinking: (1) heuristic, automatic, experiential and (2) rational, analytical, logical. 

This sums it up:

No prizes for guessing which I am; and which you are. 

I always thought (quite rationally) that heuristic thinking was like the emergent thinking from big data. The sort of short cuts we make in our minds based on all the underlying stuff we know. 

But it turns out that the view of this paper (based on all their stats and t-tests and numbers) is that the two thinking types (rational and experiential) are quite independent of one another. 


The way one person in box A processes information as an experiential thinker differs to the logic person in box B. The desire of how to be communicated with, internalisations, imaginations everything is just… different. 

Apparently a part of the research in the paper, is used to help counsellors understand how to best reach their victim. For an analytical thinker it’s logical arguments and facts. For a heuristic thinker it’s: appeals to emotions, personal experience and concrete examples. 

The other really interesting nugget is around their hypothesis of how people develop their thinking styles. Based on all this data gathered on childhood experiences, it turns out the more stressed and traumatised you were as a child, the more analytical you are. This is a survival mode for the brain under which circumstances it can’t afford to be irrational. 

I’m not sure that’s true because I have a seven year old logic bot. But trauma comes in many forms.

A further hypothesis is that as you get older the two thinking styles begin to emerge and merge. In their proposed future work, they will study children through to older adults. 

There are two main things I really like about learning about this research. 

The first is that it encourages me to let go of logic. I always thought it was the only way. Or at least unavoidable as a essential part of other ways. This realisation is sort of liberating. 

The second thing I like is the idea that all those Gen Y and millennials who (to me) seem completely irrational and experiential (because they grew up in such safe cookie cut environments?) are going to get more logical as they get older. Assuming the merging hypothesis is correct. 

This thought just cracks me up. 


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