Critical Thinking vs. Creative Thinking

Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking are two expressions that are often confused but there is a significant difference between their inner meanings. Creative thinking refers to ways of examining problems of situations from a new perspective in order to conceive a novel original idea. On the other hand, critical thinking is the logical sequential process of rationalizing, analysing, assessing and interpreting data in order to make rational decisions.1,2

The key differences between the two terms are:

Creative ThinkingCritical Thinking
Creates something new (Generative)Validates something that already exists (Analytical)
Focuses on possibilitiesFocuses on probabilities
Disregards accepted principlesApplies accepted principles
Uses right brainUses left brain
Forms hypothesisTests hypothesis
Seeks for patternUses pattern
Based on fantasyBased on reality



About Critical Thinking
Critical thinking can be regarded as judgmental in nature, as it entails thinking in a logical, clear, reasonable and reflective way to make well-formed judgments and decisions. It involves the ability to:1,2

  • Pose questions
  • Use logic
  • Remain objective
  • Examine solutions
  • Analyze consequences and conditions
  • Interpret results
  • Evaluate solutions
  • Make a reasoned decision
  • Reflect upon a decision to improve it


Critical thinking can be used for a variety of reasons on a daily basis, and there are several ways of improving it, such as:3

  1. Ask basic questions when approaching any problem, so that you don’t get lost to the complexity of an explanation. Some examples are:
    • What do you already know?
    • How do you gain that knowledge?
    • What are your objectives?
    • What are you missing?


  2. Question your basic assumptions. It is a good way to evaluate your beliefs about what is viable or appropriate.
  3. Be aware of your mental processes. Human thought tends to be fast and often automated, which is of course on the opposite of critical thinking. Becoming aware of your cognitive biases is what helps you think critically.
  4. Reverse things and avoid thinking only of what is obvious. Even if reverse is not finally true, it may lead you to the path that ends up with a solution.
  5. Evaluate evidence that already exist as existing work on your field will help your first steps in solving a problem, having the groundwork already set.
  6. Think for yourself. You cannot force critical thinking but doing it for your self appears to be much more efficient and helpful when it comes to answering tough questions.
  7. No one can think critically all the time. Critical thinking serves as a tool that can help you when there is a need to make crucial decisions or solve difficult problems.


  1. Iqbal, F. (2016, April 18). What is the difference between creative and critical thinking?, Quora blog, retrieved from
  2. The Peak Performance Center Blog, Critical Thinking vs. Creative Thinking, retrieved from
  3. Patterson, R. (2017, November 16). 7 Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills, College InfoGeek Blog, retrieved from