8 junio, 2024

Thought processes: what are they and what are they (with examples)

What are thought processes?

Thought processes are the set of actions with which the human being is capable of developing knowledge based on internal and external stimuli, such as mental representations. These processes occur inside the mind and are essential to process the information received.

One of the characteristics of the human being is his capacity for creation and his mental ability. Both of these abilities are possible largely because your brain can absorb knowledge from any object, thing, or experience and use it in the future.

One of the most important factors in human thought is learning. In order to be produced, processes such as observation, comparison, classification, analysis or description are necessary.

The most immediate processes are called basic mental processeswhile others are called integrative mental processes.

Every time the human being captures information from the outside, he starts those processes to build new knowledge. With them the ability to think, process information, use that acquired knowledge for future events or have a critical attitude is built.

basic thought processes

The basic processes of thought are directly related to how each individual perceives the reality that surrounds him. Among them are those of observation, comparison, relationship, classification and ordering.


Observation is the most basic thought process. In summary, it consists of paying attention to an object or situation in order to distinguish its characteristics well. From this process the most relevant data on what is observed is obtained.

The observation consists of two stages. The first develops when the human senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell) capture the object or situation in question. The second, later in time, occurs when the mind reconstructs the information obtained by the senses.

With this last phase, the person saves the information about the characteristics of what is observed in his mind, where it remains to be used in the future.

On the other hand, observation can be of two types: direct or indirect. In the first case, the object or situation is captured directly by the person’s senses. Indirect observation, for its part, occurs when that information comes from a secondary source, such as other people or what is read in a book.

As an example, we can point out the observation of a car that has suffered an accident in a specific place. The person who observes collects all the information offered by his senses: type of car, what damage it has, the time it happened and, if he can speak to witnesses, the cause of the accident and its results.


Once the object or situation has been observed and the mind has filed the information, the next process that takes place is that of description.

In this step, the mind orders the data that has been obtained in order to have a clear description of it. With this, you can accurately imagine the object or situation in question, contributing to the image each of the characteristics without having to look at it again. This description can be subjective or objective.

To develop the process, the mind answers several questions about what is observed: What is it?, what is it like?, what characteristics does it have? and what is its function?, among others.

An example of this process would be how the mind stores the information obtained after having observed a landscape. With the data obtained, each main element is internalized so that, later, the person can recover the image well ordered and with all its characteristics.


This process has been described as the extension of observation. In this case, the mind compares the characteristics of two or more objects or situations while observing.

In this comparison, both common elements and differences are identified, looking at both qualitative and quantitative variables. With this, the organization of information within the mind is favored.

The range that goes from the identical (when the observed objects are the same) to the opposite (when they are opposite) is progressive and includes parameters such as similar or different.

This type of process is carried out, for example, when several people are observed paying attention to aspects such as height.

Essential characteristics-relationships

All data products of observation and comparison are processed by the mind to find relationships between them.

It occurs when, after observing and selecting a main variable, the mind elaborates the similarities or differences.

In this process, for example, the person relates the different colors of an object that has been observed and finds the most similar or the most dissimilar.


The most important purpose of this process is to perform the best possible classification. For this, it is essential to choose the most outstanding variable of the object and situation.

Once that variable is selected, the mind orders the different observed elements according to it. The variable does not have to be physical (color, size, height, etc.), but it can also be the use or another element of interest.

The primary objective of the classification is to find the best possible ordering, when the time comes to search for a certain element that has been classified, it is easier to find

If, for example, different electrical appliances have been observed, a possible classification would be according to their function: refrigerating, heating, cleaning clothes, etc.

Integrative thought processes

Once the basic processes have been completed, the person will be able to use the information acquired to concretize the thought. It is then when the integrative processes appear.

Analysis and synthesis

During the analysis, the mind separates each of the components of the observed objects or situations to find their basic principles. To do this, it separates the different variables and characteristics of the whole to be analyzed.

Following the example of household appliances, with this process each of the variables would be analyzed, from their function to their size. This analysis must have a final objective, such as finding the device that meets our needs.

Linked to analysis is the process of synthesis. It is about reaching a conclusion with all the information that has been acquired.

This conclusion has an important subjective element, since two different people can reach different conclusions about the same object. Thus, one may give more importance to the size of a car, while another focuses on the cost of gasoline.


With this process, the individual evaluates and makes a judgment about the object or situation that has been observed.

This step develops in all areas of life. As an example, this process occurs when someone has to give feedback on whether a book is suitable for use at school. The person responsible for making the decision must read it and make a judgment with all the data in his possession.

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