Difference Between Thinking and Critical Thinking

Whenever we draw a conclusion or make an opinion about something, we often think about all the possible aspects of a topic, or we directly conclude as per what our mind says. This is the process of thinking or critical thinking. Both the topics have vast matter in them. 

Thinking vs Critical Thinking

The main difference between thinking and critical thinking is that thinking involves the act of analyzing something at a basic or a ground level and acts fast whereas critical thinking is the act of analyzing all the possible outcomes and characteristics of something until a conclusion or opinion is formed.

Thinking vs Critical Thinking

Thinking is a process in which a person quickly and easily forms a thought about something. It does not require and does not take long hours in analyzing the situation or topic. Thinking is a very active, necessary, and frequent action which we come across in our daily lives. 

Critical thinking is a different field. It is also the action of thinking but has exceptions. Critical thinking involves the analysis of the situation or the topic critically and involves the investigation of every possible outcome and all peculiar properties of the topic. It is time taking and more substantial.

Comparison Table Between Thinking and Critical Thinking

Parameters of ComparisonThinkingCritical Thinking
MeaningThinking is the act of examining and processing the situation and frequent drawing of thought. Critical thinking is the action of investigating every possible aspect of the situation or thought. 
RequirementsThinking may or may not require research about somethingCritical thinking is a deeper form of thinking that requires research and deep investigation.
MomentThinking is done frequently and almost every time we do something.Critical thinking is not a frequent act and it is done occasionally. 
Factual analysisThinking may or may not take facts or evidence to conclude.Critical thinking has a strong base on factual knowledge and evidence about something.   
Kind of activityThinking can be either active or passive and is completely dependent upon the thinker.Critical thinking is necessarily a very active process depending upon the thinker. 

What is Thinking?

Thinking is the act of analyzing, examining, investigating, and making a thought or an opinion about some situation kept after us or a topic that we often think about. Thinking is a very basic and general activity that we all do in our daily lives. Almost every work we do involves thinking.

However, thinking is not always active, it can also be passive. Active thinking involves drawing an opinion about something for our benefit whereas passive thinking means thinking about something passively that is not at all beneficial to us or just imagination is considered as passive thinking. Thinking is a stress-free task and does not make us tired like overthinking or critical thinking does.

The act of thinking is also not always factual or based upon evidence. Thinking can be pointless too. It can reflect one’s personality and behavior also. In other words, the thinker also sometimes fails to conclude the thought he/she raised in mind. Thinking is a very quick, reliable, and frequent activity. For instance, someone can eat the food later if he/she is not hungry at that particular time. This thought can come in fractions of seconds in someone’s brain and is all a result of thinking. 

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is a more complex and tedious task than thinking. As the name itself says, critical thinking involves thinking seriously and critically. Unlike thinking, it involves the proper use of assumptions, observations, factual knowledge, and evidence to conclude the situation or an ongoing topic.

Critical thinking is a very stressful action. It also requires research and proper analysis of something before concluding. Moreover, it is also time-consuming. Sometimes, it may last for hours and the decision still comes out manipulative. It also requires a very deep investigation. Although it is not a frequent or a quick task, it may also stress somebody’s personal life. Critical thinking is done upon serious tasks like a family matter that stresses the underaged children of that family and lets them think about the situation more often. Critical thinking is an occasional action. Critical thinking involves thinking more than what the matter requires.

When done in excess, critical thinking also turns hazardous to health, causing headaches and anxiety. Sometimes people often combine critical thinking abilities and overthinking which results in major losses yet perfect conclusions. Critical thinking includes seeking knowledge and drawing conclusions whereas overthinking is just an obsession.

Main Differences Between Thinking and Critical Thinking

  1. Thinking is the process of forming a thought about something and can be done in a fraction of seconds which is less time-consuming whereas critical thinking consumes a lot of time and energy too.
  2. Thinking involves the practice of analyzing only visible aspects of something which is kept right in front whereas critical thinking involves every aspect of the topic and involves unseen sides and details also.
  3. Thinking can be done for unwanted and unnecessary things also whereas critical thinking always focuses on being productive and is for important things only. 
  4. Thinking never gives stress whereas critical thinking does.
  5. Thinking may or may not always conclude whereas critical thinking always leads to a conclusion.


Critical thinking may be referred to as “thinking about the thinking”. It is a very tedious and stressful task. Thinking is always necessary and should be done frequently but critical thinking and overthinking are always harmful when done in excess. To make good decisions in life, a perfect balance of thinking, critical thinking, and overthinking should be maintained.

Critical thinking should not be always kept at priority and should only be done when the situation is tough and serious. Otherwise, the general thinking is enough for less tiring jobs. However, to live a happy life, balance is the most important thing.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/jeductechsoci.17.1.248.pdf
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-3984.1990.tb00733.x
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