There are many different scenarios where you might be asked to name your thinking style, an interview being one of the most common. People who want to know this information believe that it can provide insight into whether you’re what they’re looking for.
Thinking styles are a concept created by a psychologist called Robert Bramson in the 1970s. Bramson sought to research how people think and therefore act the way that they do.
According to Bramson, thinking styles describe how people approach and process situations as well as their ability to achieve goals. Each thinking style has its own set of pros and cons.
Here’s a breakdown of Bramson’s five thinking styles so that you can figure out which one best describes you. It will come in handy if you’re ever asked this question in an interview!
The five thinking styles
1. The idealist
Idealists dream big. They believe that the best possible outcomes for any project can be achieved with a can-do attitude, their best effort, and teamwork. They don’t leave anyone behind and ensure that everyone is included in discussions, brainstorming, and contribution.
Of course, along with these beliefs comes standards, and idealists really have standards. The term perfectionist is often thrown at (or even brandished by) these people. They work hard, aim to please, and often struggle with their high expectations.
In fact, idealists often set their expectations too high which ends up negatively affecting others around them as well as themselves. They also tend to feel let down and get hurt easily because of these high expectations. Additionally, idealists can miss the trees for the forest. They are so focused on an end goal that they forget about smaller details.
You might be an idealist if you:
- Always have time for everyone in your team and are willing to hear all their ideas
- Actually listen to what people have to say when you ask them questions
- Are always searching for the perfect or ideal resolution, outcome, or process
- Have big dreams and goals
- Seek to please everyone when making decisions
- Are solution-oriented
- Are great at setting goals, but can overreach
- Have huge faith in the power of everyone agreeing on something
- Always think about ethics, values, and focus on caring about what everyone else cares about.
2. The analyst
Analysts approach problems scientifically. They use data, details, and information to take the time they believe is required to find the best solution to an issue. They are ruled by logic, pragmatism, and evidence.
There is no focus on the self; analysts do what they believe is the right solution, which isn’t necessarily what they want to do.
These types of people can become too set in their ways. They can be excessively careful, take too long to make a decision, and come off as a little withdrawn and aloof.
You might be an analyst if you:
- Approach finding solutions in a methodical, scientific way
- Love data and details
- Take time to figure out what your next steps should be
- Make sure you get all the information that you need before coming to a conclusion
- Don’t care about what you or others want, focusing instead on what’s “right”
- Love lists and rules
- Break problems down into their components
3. The synthesist
Synthesists are creative types. They are thinkers who love to see different perspectives, welcome ideas, and aren’t afraid to challenge others and the status quo. They mix things up and see connections that others don’t see.
This type of thinker likes keeping things fresh. They’re creative rather than logical, are curious, inquisitive, and sometimes even argumentative.
They can come off as combative if they haven’t learned to reign in and listen to others, and can be insulting if pressed. Synthesists are prone to setting aside logic a little too much and little too often.
You might be a synthesist if you:
- Love to make changes to how things are done
- Prefer creativity over logic
- Are good at making connections between things that others don’t/can’t
- Are willing to challenge the status quo and enter into debates
- Don’t give in easily or go with what everyone else is doing
- Are incurably curious
- Love hearing different, fresh ideas
4. The pragmatist
Pragmatists are hard-working, reasonable, and logical. They don’t have any lofty goals, they just know what they need to do and get it done. When there’s work to do, pragmatists get to it and make things happen – step-by-step, using both logic and creativity.
They are adaptable and reasonable, shine when it comes to finding news of doing things without thinking too outside the box, and look for what works without focusing on why. Pragmatists are good with people and don’t ruffle others’ feathers.
However, pragmatists can lose track of long-term plans and come off as a little scatterbrained. They can definitely benefit from broadening their perspective and dreaming a bit bigger.
You might be a pragmatist if you:
- Don’t tend to think of the big picture or long-term goals
- Have a list of things you need to do
- Constantly are checking items off your to-do list and enjoy having small tasks and goals
- Are good with people
- Use logic and creativity
- Take things step-by-step
- Can put the work in and get results
- Shine when you find new ways to achieve results without reinventing the wheel
5. The realist
Realists love facts. They rely on their own experiences to come up with solutions and approaches to situations. They like action and problem-solving, and always focus on what it takes to get where they’re intending to go.
They zero in on the bottom line, listen carefully to experts, and are incredibly results-driven. They are good leaders as motivating others comes easily to them, and they love to work toward a solution.
Realists can spend too much time trying to make everyone get along. They can get caught up in details, get too stressed and burn themselves out, and not know when to take a break.
You might be a realist if you:
- Always want the facts
- Aren’t really interested in ideas that are super out of the box
- Care about solutions and approaches that are tried and tested
- Are good at motivating others
- Work towards solutions
- Always focus on the bottom line
- Love solving problems.
There’s no such thing as the right or perfect thinking style, but knowing what kind of thinking style you have can give you deeper insights into who you are, how you approach situations, and what kind of careers and job roles suit you.