Concrete Thinking

The opposite of abstract thinking is concrete thinking. While abstract thinking involves dealing with concepts, generalizations, and theories, concrete thinking focuses on the here and now, dealing with specifics and details that can be sensed and experienced.

In concrete thinking, things are interpreted literally, without metaphorical or symbolic meanings. This type of thinking is usually more focused on what can be seen, touched, and experienced directly rather than considering underlying concepts or wider contexts.


Concrete thinking is a cognitive process that focuses on facts, specifics, and details. It involves thinking about things as they are, without generalizing or theorizing. It is literal and oriented toward problem-solving based on direct observation or experience.


Concrete thinking is most effective when you need to deal with real-world situations that require immediate action, or when working on tasks that have clear rules or guidelines. It’s useful for tasks that don’t require deeper interpretation or understanding of underlying concepts.


Concrete thinking is applied in a variety of settings, such as:

  • In the workplace, especially in roles that require attention to detail.
  • In daily life, when following recipes, operating machinery, or navigating.
  • In educational contexts, especially for young children or those learning new skills.

How to Apply

To apply concrete thinking:

  1. Focus on the problem at hand.
  2. Observe the facts and details related to the situation.
  3. Analyze these facts without introducing external concepts or generalizations.
  4. Take action based on this literal understanding.


  1. Following a cooking recipe: Measuring each ingredient precisely and following each step literally.
  2. Assembling a piece of furniture: Following the instruction manual step-by-step, without deviation.
  3. Navigating a new city using a map: Focusing on the streets and landmarks to get from point A to point B.


Imagine a flowchart that starts with a specific problem at the top, followed by steps like “Gather Facts,” “Analyze Details,” and “Take Direct Action,” leading to the solution at the bottom. This flowchart would represent the linear and detail-oriented process of concrete thinking.