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Thinking vs. Reasoning: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 18, 2023
Thinking is the process of considering or pondering something, while reasoning is the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

Key Differences

Thinking is a broad, cognitive process involving mental activities like pondering, reflecting, and contemplating. Reasoning, however, specifically involves logical thinking and the drawing of conclusions based on evidence and rationality.
Thinking can be creative, critical, or reflective, encompassing a wide range of mental activities. Reasoning is more structured, focusing on deriving conclusions through logical and analytical thinking.
Thinking can be subjective, influenced by personal feelings, opinions, or biases. Reasoning aims to be objective, relying on logic and evidence rather than emotions or personal beliefs.
Thinking can range from simple daydreaming to complex problem-solving. Reasoning is a higher-order thinking process, involving complex cognitive functions like analysis and evaluation.
The goal of thinking may vary, often without a specific objective. Reasoning, on the other hand, seeks to solve problems, make decisions, or establish beliefs based on logical processes.

Comparison Chart


Mental process of considering or pondering
Logical process of forming conclusions


Broad, includes various mental activities
Structured, focuses on logical analysis


Can be subjective and personal
Aims for objectivity and rationality


Varies from simple to complex
Typically involves complex cognitive functions


Varies, often without specific outcome
Problem-solving, decision-making, establishing beliefs

Thinking and Reasoning Definitions


The use of the mind to imagine and understand.
Critical thinking is crucial for problem-solving.


Logical thinking aimed at reaching a conclusion.
Good reasoning is essential in critical thinking.


Contemplation or deliberation over a subject.
His thinking on the issue evolved over time.


The action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way.
Her reasoning led her to the correct solution.


The process of considering or pondering something.
Her thinking was interrupted by a sudden noise.


The process of forming conclusions or judgments from facts or premises.
Scientific reasoning is based on evidence.


The formation of opinions or judgments.
Independent thinking is encouraged in the classroom.


Analyzing facts to form a judgment.
Legal reasoning requires thorough analysis of evidence.


The action of using one's mind to produce thoughts.
Creative thinking led to many innovative ideas.


Use of reason, especially to form conclusions, inferences, or judgments.


The act or practice of one that thinks; thought.


Evidence or arguments used in thinking or argumentation.


A way of reasoning; judgment
To my thinking, this is not a good idea.


(uncountable) The deduction of inferences or interpretations from premises, abstract thought, ratiocination; (countable) any instance of this, especially as a process leading to an action, motive.


Characterized by thought or thoughtfulness; rational
We are thinking animals.


(countable) A Rastafari meeting held for the purposes of chanting, prayer and discussion.


Thought; gerund of think.
What is your thinking on this subject?


Present participle of reason


Present participle of think
I'm thinking about inventing a new perpetual-motion machine.


The act or process of adducing a reason or reasons; manner of presenting one's reasons.


Having the faculty of thought; cogitative; capable of a regular train of ideas; as, man is a thinking being.


That which is offered in argument; proofs or reasons when arranged and developed; course of argument.
His reasoning was sufficiently profound.


The act of thinking; mode of thinking; imagination; cogitation; judgment.
I heard a bird so sing,Whose music, to my thinking, pleased the king.


Thinking that is coherent and logical


The process of thinking (especially thinking carefully);
Thinking always made him frown
She paused for thought


Endowed with the capacity to reason


Endowed with the capacity to reason


The mental process of deduction or inference.
His reasoning was flawed, leading to incorrect conclusions.


What is thinking?

Thinking is the mental process of generating thoughts, ideas, or solutions.

What is reasoning?

Reasoning is the logical process of forming conclusions or judgments.

Is reasoning always based on facts?

Ideally, reasoning should be based on facts, but it can be influenced by incorrect information.

Do all people think the same way?

No, thinking can vary greatly between individuals.

Are there different types of reasoning?

Yes, including deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning.

Can thinking be creative?

Yes, thinking can be very creative, as in brainstorming or imaginative scenarios.

What role does thinking play in learning?

Thinking is crucial for understanding, analyzing, and synthesizing information in learning.

Can thinking be illogical?

Yes, thinking can sometimes be illogical or influenced by biases.

Is reasoning a part of critical thinking?

Yes, reasoning is a key component of critical thinking.

How is reasoning used in science?

Reasoning in science is used to formulate hypotheses and interpret data.

What is the difference between reasoning and rationalizing?

Reasoning is forming conclusions based on logic, while rationalizing is justifying actions with plausible but false reasoning.

Is logical reasoning always correct?

Logical reasoning can be incorrect if based on false premises or incomplete information.

How does emotion affect thinking?

Emotions can significantly influence how and what people think about.

Can reasoning be taught?

Yes, reasoning skills can be developed and improved through education and practice.

Is reasoning important in decision-making?

Reasoning is essential for making informed and logical decisions.

What is intuitive thinking?

Intuitive thinking is based on instinctive feelings rather than conscious reasoning.

How does culture influence thinking?

Culture can greatly shape the way individuals think and perceive the world.

Can reasoning be improved?

Yes, reasoning skills can be enhanced through practice, education, and critical thinking exercises.

Can thinking be unconscious?

Yes, some thinking processes can occur unconsciously.

Can thinking be erroneous?

Yes, thinking can sometimes lead to incorrect conclusions or misunderstandings.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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