Conceptual reasoning, also known as conceptual thinking, refers to a specific type of thought that involves abstraction and reflection, as well as creative thinking and problem solving. It is a term that encompasses many types of thought, which all relate to thinking in abstract and intuitive ways. Conceptual reasoning has many applications and is referred to in many different fields. Scientists, academics and psychologists are a few of the professionals who deal routinely with different kinds of conceptual reasoning.

General Definition

Conceptual reasoning allows for new and creative ideas to emerge.
Conceptual reasoning allows for new and creative ideas to emerge.

Conceptual reasoning means ways of thinking that include problem solving, analyzing, developing new ideas and reflecting on past and present experiences. People sometimes define this kind of reasoning as thinking outside the box. When we use conceptual reasoning, we are willing to see things in a different way and accept that there is not one sole objective truth to how things work. We put aside common beliefs and approach a problem with a fresh mind.

Conceptual Reasoning in Science

New thinking about medicine and technology emerges through conceptual reasoning.
New thinking about medicine and technology emerges through conceptual reasoning.

One area where conceptual reasoning is particularly relevant is science. Depending on the kind of science, conceptual reasoning solves many problems and creates new ideas and ways of thinking. Scientists have to acknowledge current theories, but often must put them aside to allow their own ideas to emerge. Fields such as medicine, environmental engineering and technology rely heavily on conceptual reasoning for the development of new ways of looking at the world. For example, much of today's scientific thought around environmentally sound energy sources involves conceptual thinking. Biodiesel gas, wind harnessing and solar power all require conceptual reasoning for problem solving.

Conceptual Reasoning in the Humanities

Artists use conceptual reasoning to see the world in a new way.
Artists use conceptual reasoning to see the world in a new way.

In addition to its concrete uses in the sciences, conceptual reasoning is a major part of studying and working within a vast array of humanities. Artists constantly see reality in new ways and have to be open to creativity and reinvention. When studying literature or history, scholars reflect upon events and think outside conventional frameworks to develop new ideas. New forms of music also spring from the idea of conceptual reasoning and the way it works within abstraction.

Conceptual Reasoning in Psychology

Psychologists test conceptual reasoning to determine IQ.
Psychologists test conceptual reasoning to determine IQ.

Finally, the ability to use conceptual reasoning plays a role in our psychology. Psychologists use it as a measure of IQ and mental capability. When a person has difficulty with conceptual reasoning, he may have trouble with social interactions, problem solving and learning from mistakes.