In this scenario, the gathering of credible, relevant and logically sound information, while at the same time acknowledging the limits, certainty and nature of knowledge, is key.
That is, we ‘create’ by synthesizing information we have previously analyzed and evaluated, so that a logical and feasible conclusion/solution may be inferred.
Sometimes, they think with caution to ensure logic every step of the way, especially when they care about the real-world implications of their thinking.
Taking these broad possibilities into account, it can be said that people think in order to decide what to do; in order to decide what to believe; or simply for fun.
If it isn’t, then it’s reasonable to go back to the drawing board until the solution meets these criteria.
However, such assessment may not be possible in some cases; perhaps crucial, relevant knowledge (which may be needed to assess such logic and feasibility) may not be readily available for solving the problem and, thus, a collation of insight and the ability to think outside the box may be an attractive alternative.
This ability to ‘think outside the box’ is often referred to as (for further context on this description, see Dwyer et al., 2016). The development of creativity as a decision-making process.
According to Sternberg (2003; 2006), creative thinking refers to the convergence of intellectual abilities, knowledge, styles of thinking, personality and motivation; which may, subsequently, yield a solution or conclusion that is (1) unusual or novel and (2) appropriate or valuable (Halpern, 2014; Runco & Jaeger, 2012; Sternberg, 2010).
That is, lateral thinking involves the provocation and generation of ideas, as well as the selection of an idea as a means of breeding and applying new associated ideas (De Bono, 1985). However, applying inference and reflective judgment, inherent in critical thinking, is more likely to yield a logical and feasible solution; and is thus a better approach to making a decision than that of lateral, creative thinking.
According to De Bono, lateral thinking is engaged because of previously failed attempts at solving problems; and thus, ‘digging the hole deeper’, which is an important facet of critical thinking, may not work. For example, according to De Bono’s comparison of real-world problem-solving to a game of chess, ‘pieces’ are not given to us, but instead created through lateral thinking.