Associative thinking is a type of thinking based on the connection of one concept with another (association). Every person has this kind of thinking and constantly uses it in everyday life. For example, the word “sand” can evoke a person’s memories of the sea beach, the sun, and hot weather. And when the word "mandarin" in my head immediately there are thoughts about the New Year holidays, dressed Christmas tree. Such memories are called associations. It is noteworthy that each person’s associations are individual and depend on personal experience.
Associations and their types
Associations are relations that arise between individual objects, phenomena, events and facts that are in the memory of a person.
Psychologists have divided associations into several types:
- by similarity: gas stove – electric oven – microwave;
- in contrast (opposite concepts): day – night, frost – heat, sky – earth;
- by the ratio of the part and the whole: book – page, hand – finger;
- on cause-effect relationships: thunder – lightning;
- on generalization: apple – fruit, chair – furniture, sweater – clothes;
- by submission: carrot – vegetable, wolf – beast.
- by contiguity in time or space: Summer – heat, wardrobe – chest of drawers.
Another association can be divided into these types:
- Thematic. Here subjects are interconnected by one theme (disease is medicine).
- Phonetic. The names of objects or phenomena are consonant with each other (the guest is the nail, the house is the scrap).
- Word building. Such associations are single words (beauty is beautiful, fear is scary).
Associative relationships are useful for solving various problems. Associations can be not only verbal, but also in the form of visual images, sounds, smells, tactile sensations. Depending on which representative system is more developed in humans (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), such associations will be more characteristic of him.
Each person uses different methods for memorizing. One needs to say new information out loud several times, another – to write it down on paper, the third one to read it, and then mentally present the read text before his eyes.
Every mentally healthy person can create associations. However, there are people who suffer from a so-called associative disorder. It is a mental illness that disrupts the process of building associations.
What is the use of associative thinking?
We can recall many cases when certain associations helped to make a scientific discovery or create a new invention. For example, an engineer specializing in the construction of bridges — Brown — once, sitting under a bush, saw a web, and this pushed him to the invention of a suspension bridge, which is mounted on cables. Scotsman Danlon invented rubber tires after seeing a spring hose. When scientists tried to understand the place of subatomic particles in an atom, a physicist from Japan H. Nagaoki was born an association with the solar system.
Developed associative thinking can be very useful. It helps in creating new ideas and stimulates the development of imagination. Associative thinking helps improve the process of remembering the new. The author of the book “Supermemory”, Tony Buzan, suggested using an associative method for quickly memorizing information. In order to fix in memory a new concept, it is necessary to correlate it with an already familiar concept, that is, to hold an association between them. The memory is arranged in such a way that the facts related to each other are much easier to remember. For example, in order to quickly memorize a new, unfamiliar or foreign word, you need to pick up another one similar in sound to it. Thus, a person binds new knowledge to those already in his arsenal. This is how associative memory works.
Associative thinking contributes to the development of memory and is involved in the process of generating ideas. This is useful not only for people of art, but also for those who want to make their lives better, because creativity is the basis of human existence and the development of an individual and society as a whole.
Development of associative thinking
Associative thinking is the basis of the creative process, so it is very useful to develop it. As a rule, such thinking is well developed in children. Children love to play with words, creating unusual associations. The development of this type of thinking in childhood helps to activate the creative abilities of the child. Adults can also develop associative-figurative thinking through special exercises.
Associative thinking test
Before embarking on the development of thinking, it is recommended to pass a small psychological test that allows you to see your own hidden problems and try to find their roots in your subconscious. Prepare a pen and paper for the test. So let’s get started.
Write down any 16 words that first come to your mind. To facilitate the task below is a list of letters on which the words should begin. This will be your first associative series of 16 words. Then take the words in pairs and write down the association arising from each pair of words. You will get your second associative series, consisting already of 8 words. Again, take the words in pairs and come up with an association for each pair. Get the associative series of 4 words. The next row will consist of 2 words already. Match the last word pair. This is the most important association since it came out of your subconscious.
The list of letters that begin with the words of the first associative series: T, D, B, M, D, A, F, O, C, F, B, H, H, P, L, C.
This test was used by the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and his followers in working with patients. The chain of uncontrolled, random associations helps to look into the subconscious of a person and understand the root of his problems. During the assignment, it is important not to think for a long time, looking for the most appropriate association, but to say what comes first to mind.
Exercises for the development of associative thinking
Exercises are very simple, and you can perform them at any convenient time. They not only train thinking, but also contribute to the development of speech, expanding vocabulary. Exercises can act as a kind of game that can be played during a working break, on a walk or in the evening before going to bed.
Exercise 1. Think of the first word that will be the beginning of a chain of associations. Now pick up the following words to him, continuing the chain. For example: cat – wool – softness – smoothness, etc.
Exercise 2. Think of two unrelated words. The first will be the beginning of the chain, and the second – its end. Your task is to build an associative chain that connects the first and the last word. For example: source words are dog and car. We make a chain: dog – barking – passerby – pavement – road – car.
Exercise 3. Think of two or three source words, and then choose associations for them that have a connection with the source words on any basis or on several grounds. For example: source words are bright and hot. Associations: light, food, bake, color.
Exercise 4. Think of two or three words and pick up to them the words that are associated with them all at the same time. For example: Source words are white and cold. We select associations: snow, ice cream, stone, metal.
Exercise 5. Think up the first word, and then try to pick up to him an unusual association that is not directly related to the original word. For example: the envelope. The first association that usually comes to mind is letter. But you need an unusual one. What else can you use an envelope for? For example, for storing seeds. So the association is the seeds.
The following two exercises can be performed in a group. The number of participants can be any. To record words, it is best to use a voice recorder. Before starting the exercise, you need to choose a leader who will ask the first word in the chain, as well as follow the process.
Exercise 1. The facilitator names the first word. Then all the participants in turn come up with associations for each subsequent word, forming a chain. Words must be related by meaning, that is, they must have a direct association. Example: house – building – brick – factory – production.
Exercise 2. This exercise is similar to the previous one, only now the participants should choose not the direct but indirect association to the source word, that is, the one that arises in his head. Example: house – money – restaurant – sea – win.
After all the participants name their associations, it is necessary to analyze and exchange views. Each participant must explain why he called just such an association. For example, the first member of the word "home" is associated with the money for which it was purchased, so he calls the word "money." For the second participant, the word “money” evokes memories of an expensive restaurant. The third participant may recall the restaurant, which he visited while relaxing at sea. The fourth participant, having heard the word "sea", thought about the ticket, which someone of his friends won the lottery, so he called the word "win".
During such trainings, each of the participants gets the opportunity to look into their own subconscious and better understand themselves and their fears, emotions, experiences.
Thus, the training of associative thinking has a positive effect on the development of imagination, helps to improve memory, intensify the process of creative search and improve the quality of life.