Difference Between Thinking and Reasoning

Key Difference – Thinking vs Reasoning

Thinking and reasoning are two mental processes between which a key difference can be discerned. Thinking encapsulates a large arena of thought production that can be either conscious or unconscious. On the contrary, reasoning is limited to the conscious production of mental thought with the use of logic. As you can see from the very definitions themselves, unlike reasoning, thinking is not always logical, nor is it conscious.

What is Thinking?

Thinking can be understood as a mental process which produces thoughts. In academic disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, biology, and even neurology, the thought process is being studied. It is stated that all human beings have the capacity to think although how thoughts are produced and why are still debated. In philosophy, thinking is believed as one of the foundations of human existence. The ideas of Rene Descartes clearly highlight this (‘I think, therefore, 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. When we think it helps us to make sense of the work around us and interpret it in our own way. In this sense, thinking is extremely beneficial to people to deal with day to day occurrences and realize their ambitions. According to psychologists, thinking can be both a conscious process and sometimes an unconscious process as well. Of the various branches of psychology, cognitive psychology focuses the most on thinking or thought processes. Cognitive psychologists study how the thought process changes as individuals reach different stages in life from childhood to adulthood.

Difference Between Thinking and Reasoning

What is Reasoning?

Reasoning is also a mental process. This can be understood as a sub process of thinking. However, the key difference is that unlike thinking which could be a conscious or an unconscious process, reasoning is most definitely a conscious process. This requires logic. A person who reasons uses the various facts involved in a particular issue and tries to logically comprehend and find a solution to the issue.

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

However, psychologists point out that when reasoning people are not always dominated by the facts themselves but can be influenced by cultural elements as well. Reasoning especially assists us when we face problems or when making a decision. It allows us to weigh the pros and cons and choose what is best.

Key Difference - Thinking vs Reasoning

What is the difference between Thinking and Reasoning?

Definitions of Thinking and Reasoning:

Thinking: Thinking is a mental process which produces thoughts.

Reasoning: Reasoning is a mental process that uses logic.

Characteristics of Thinking and Reasoning:

Conscious/ Unconscious:

Thinking: Thinking can be either conscious or unconscious.

Reasoning: Reasoning is always a conscious effort.


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

Reasoning: Logic plays a key role in reasoning.


Thinking: Thinking is a large process.

Reasoning: Reasoning is a sub category of the though process.


Image Courtesy:

1. A woman thinking By ÁWá – Own work, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Thinking By Hell9 (talk) (Uploads), [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons