Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. It is often used in conjunction with convergent thinking, which follows a particular set of logical steps to arrive at one "correct" solution. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that many ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion. Many possible solutions are explored in a short amount of time, and unexpected connections are drawn. Following divergent thinking, ideas and information are organized and structured using convergent thinking.
Psychologists have found that a high IQ alone does not guarantee creativity. Instead, personality traits that promote divergent thinking are more important. Divergent thinking is found among people with personalities which have traits such as nonconformity, curiosity, willingness to take risks, and persistence. Additionally, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that musicians are more adept at utilizing both hemispheres and more likely to use divergent thinking in their thought processes.
Activities which promote divergent thinking include creating lists of questions, setting aside time for thinking and meditation, brainstorming, subject mapping / "bubble mapping", keeping a journal, creating artwork, and free writing. In free writing, a person will focus on one particular topic and write non-stop about it for a short period of time, in a stream of consciousness fashion.