Differences between thinking and reasoning

Thinking and reasoning are two  different mental processes . Thinking encapsulates a large arena of thought production that can be conscious or unconscious. On the contrary, reasoning is limited to the production of mentally conscious thinking, using logic. As you can see from the definitions itself, as opposed to reasoning, thinking is not always logical, nor is it conscious .

What is thought?

In academic disciplines, such as philosophy, psychology, biology, and neurology, the thought process is studied. It is claimed that all human beings have the ability to think, although how thoughts are produced is still a topic of discussion. In philosophy, thought is seen as one of the foundations of human life. Rene Descartes’ ideas clearly highlight this (‘I think, so I am’).

Thoughts allow people to organize their ideas and feelings. It can also be considered as one of the basic factors that underlie human behavior. Thought can be both a conscious process and sometimes an unconscious process as well – as is the case with psychoanalysis. Of the various branches of psychology, cognitive psychology focuses on thought processes. Cognitive psychologists study how the thinking process changes when individuals reach different stages of life, from childhood to adulthood.

What is reasoning?

Reasoning is also a mental process, but it can be understood as a sub-process of thinking. However, the main difference is that, unlike thinking that can be conscious or an unconscious process, reasoning is definitely a conscious process. This requires logic. A reasoner uses the various facts involved in a specific issue and tries to understand logically and find a solution to the problem.

Reasoning is closely associated with ideas such as good and evil, truth and lies, cause and effect. Reasoning allows us to identify an action and analyze whether it is positive or negative, beneficial or harmful based on available facts and logic.

However, psychologists point out that when people reason they are not always dominated by the facts themselves, but can be influenced by cultural elements. Reasoning especially helps us when we run into problems or when we are going to make a decision. It allows us to weigh the pros and cons and choose what is best.

What is the difference between thinking and reasoning?

Definitions of thinking and reasoning:

Thinking:  Thinking is a mental process that does not necessarily use logic

Reasoning: reasoning is a mental process that uses logic.

Features of thinking and reasoning:

Conscious / Unconscious:

Thinking: Thinking can be conscious or unconscious.

Reasoning: reasoning is always a conscious effort.


Thinking: Logic does not play a fundamental role in thinking.

Reasoning: Logic plays a key role in reasoning.


Thinking: Thinking is a large process.

Reasoning: reasoning is a subcategory of the thought process.

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