Linear Thinking: The Ultimate Guide to the Linear Thought Process

Did you know that your way of thinking affects the way you perceive the world around you? Yes, the way you think influences your decisions when it comes to solving and reacting to problems and situations.

Thinking plays a critical role in your ability to learn, understand, and assimilate knowledge. The approach you use to solve problems and implement a plan is closely tied to your thinking process. Most people fall into one of two broad thought processes – linear and non-linear thinking.

In this post, we'll explore linear thought and how the linear thought process affects your ability to make decisions.

What is linear thinking?

Linear thinking is a systematic and analytical thought process that follows a known step-by-step progression similar to a straight line. Linear thinkers view a problem as a process with a set starting point that follows a sequence of connected series, ultimately leading to a solution.

It's also known as sequential thinking because it follows a stepwise progression. The thoughts flow in a straightforward, logical way, and progress in a stepwise fashion.

Linear thinkers are considered left-brained because the left side of the brain is associated with methodical and analytical thinking. It's also connected to sequencing, logic, mathematics, thinking in words, and facts.

As a linear thinker, you're likely to draw from previous experience and information to solve daily problems. Your brain thrives on establishing rules, consistencies, formulas, or patterns to inform your decision or make predictions.

In linear thinking, one thing leads to the next in a stepwise fashion. Therefore, linear thinkers tend to excel in science, math, and technical subjects. This linear thinking style will serve you well if you pursue a career as a chemical, software, or mechanical engineer. Or any other research-based jobs such as accountants and IT specialists.

Since linear thinkers are data-driven, their thinking follows a framework that is constantly reinforced through systematic repetition. The neurosynapses in your brain follow the same path repeatedly, building skills and mastery within your chosen field.

Examples of the linear thought process

Linear thinking is a binary process with only two sets of answers – correct or incorrect. The logical thought process excludes every option beyond the yes or no responses from consideration. It's simple, fast, sequential, and organized, making it the most popular thought process.

Linear thinking is regarded as mature, honest, and intelligent, and the process tends to be organized and efficient to allow the timely completion of tasks. Unsurprisingly, linear thinking constitutes 90% of our daily thought processes.

A linear thought process is orderly and straightforward, just like the letters in the alphabet. A comes before B, and C comes after B. The sequence progresses logically and sequentially until the letter Z, where it ends. None of the letters are skipped, jump out of turn, or are replaceable. You must progress from one letter to the next in a logical, orderly fashion.

Another example of linear thinking takes on a mathematical leaning. If x =y and y=z, it's only logical to conclude that x=z.

A linear thought process is popular because it follows a simple logic – a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. It's also the most efficient way to get from one point (problem) to another (solution).

The intake and outflow in a linear thought process are predictable, not to mention orderly and efficiently presented. They're easy to consider, learn, and write, given that most life processes follow a linear pattern. Reading and writing start from the left and follows a straight line to the right side in an orderly fashion.


Linear thinking is the most common thought process because it follows a logical and orderly pattern. It allows people to build on previous experiences and apply those lessons to solving future problems. Linear thinkers tend to excel in data-driven careers such as engineering, IT specialists, and accountants. Also, be sure to check out our article about non-linear thinking.

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