Week 8: Importance of Analogical Thinking

Bernard Marcelo


Importance of Analogical Thinking

This week’s reading consisted of a text explaining what the importance of analogical thinking was in relation to creativity. This reading follows the notion that analogical thinking is very much a key factor when thinking about creativity. Analogical thinking can be described as a thinking pattern that takes ideas from a certain context and applying it to a different context in order to produce a new idea. This type of thinking is sometimes named ‘making a connection’ which many individuals use in order to solve a problem. Analogical thinking can either work subconsciously or consciously depending on the situation of the problem. Sometimes there is an instant ‘spark’ of a brilliant idea that one person can receive, other times this ‘spark’ does not come and the individual must work hard to search for analogical connections. An example of this could be an advertiser searching for effective ways to promote a new fragrance i.e. billboards, magazines, and the Internet.

Analogical thinking in creativity is a way in which a person can use to find a solution to their problem. This type of thinking uses four different types of synthetic methods to successfully aid in creative thinking. There is the direct analogy, personal analogy, fantasy analogy and the symbolic analogy.

The Direct Analogy method is described in the text as ‘the problem solver is asked to think of ways that related problems have been solved’ (Davis, 2004, p. 160). Analogies from nature are encouraged to be thought of when applying this method in creative thinking. An example the text uses is that of a cave person having problems spearing enough fish for his family. This cave person observes many flies being entrapped by the spider’s web and experiences a ‘spark’, he makes the connection of the spider’s web and decides to use a hammock as fishing net. Davis (2004) argues that the direct analogy method is very useful to solve any type of problem.

The second method used is the personal analogy method. Davis (2004) describes this method as the individual achieving new or different perspectives on the problem by manipulating their imagination and becoming a part of that problem. This method is a very unique way to solve problems because instead of finding a solution the traditional way, you use your imagination and creativity to place yourself as a part of the problem. An example of becoming a part of the problem, you could imagine yourself as ‘the flu’. You would ask yourself questions such as how could I enter someone’s body? Where is the best place for me to hide? What factors help me spread my virus? With these questions answered, the thinker could find a solution to protect him/herself from the flu.

The third method is the fantasy analogy method, which is described by Davis (2004) as “the problem solver thinking of a few farfetched ideal solutions that could lead to creative yet practical ideas”. The individuals that use this technique can answer many questions: (in relation to use in schools) how can we get students to finish off their homework? How do we stop the schoolyard bullying at lunchtime? This method helps the creative thinker come up with many solutions by finding out what they want and figuring out how they can obtain this.

The final method is the symbolic analogy method. Davis (2004) explains this method as to think of a self-contradicting two-word phrase such as an oxymoron. The conflict between the two words sometimes relates to a problem and when this relation is developed, ideas start to flow in the thinker’s mind. An example of an oxymoron that could be used is ‘alone together’. This oxymoron could relate to ballet dancers trying to create a choreography piece to a classical song. Davis gives the example of the electric eel inspiring an inventor to create an ice cube maker.


Davis, G. A. (2004). Creative Inspiration Through Analogical Thinking (5th ed.). USA.


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