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Human thought: concept, judgment and reasoning

The study of thought can be carried out from two points of view: logical and psychological. For the first, thought is considered a product that can be abstracted from the producing consciousness, regardless of the psychic activity that originated it, nor the course of its development, nor the particular characteristics that it acquires in each individual; the only thing that matters in logical thinking is the general characteristics of thought itself. On the other hand, from the psychological point of view , the thoughtit is a psychic activity, that is, an effective process that is carried out in the consciousness of an individual. So, just as psychology deals with the real activity of thinking, logic deals only with the product of said activity, that is, with thought itself.

Within human intellectual activity there are three main operations: concept, judgment and reasoning. Next we will delve into the operation of these three operations that make up human thought.


The concepts are considered general ideas that result from an isolating and generalizing mental operation. These are based on mental categories, which are used to group objects, events or other information, and have a common set of characteristics.

Concepts allow us to classify objects and events. When learning a concept, focus on the relevant characteristics and ignore those that are irrelevant.

Concept formation

The formation of concepts corresponds roughly to processes, generalization and abstraction. These are formed in two ways: according to their defining properties (classical model) and according to the typical characteristics of their members (prototype model).

The classical model strictly defines a triangle as a geometric shape with three sides and interior angles of 180 degrees; On the other hand, the prototype model defines a concept according to the general characteristics of its parts. The prototype model is particularly useful when not all members share the same characteristics, only similar ones.

The concepts are formed according to 4 main elements: observation, generalization, discrimination and abstraction.

Observation: it is the first stage of concept formation. This is based on becoming aware of what is being observed, be it an event, object or experience. Observation can occur directly or indirectly; in a direct way a child can see a cat directly and realize it on his own, but on the other hand, he can also be an indirect observer, for example, when he hears old stories from his parents or grandparents, in these cases consciousness it is indirect.

Generalization: it is the second stage of concept formation. Through this process the concepts are used to generalize information from patterns and membership relationships. Repeated experiences and observations of different objects or situations result in a tendency to form a general idea; Therefore, if the child sees one cat first, then another, and so on, the child will begin to form a general idea of ​​that animal.

The generalization process is the key to understanding most of the acquired concepts, such as the concepts of gender, shape, number, etc.

Discrimination: the discrimination process works by distinguishing and differentiating one object or situation from another to achieve a more precise concept. Under this process the child begins to differentiate between shapes, numbers, letters, animals, etc. For example, learn that all cats are the same and all dogs are the same. Distinguish that both are animals, but in turn they are different from each other. It is this type of sequential operation of generalization and discrimination in interaction that leads to the formation of concepts.

Abstraction: it is the last stage of concept formation. This usually occurs after 8 years of age. During this process perceptions and experiences are internally analyzed and can be experienced even in the absence of objects. This results in an appreciation of similarities and differences. It can be noted that as the child grows, the process of abstraction plays an increasingly important role in the development of concepts. Under this process, experience is analyzed in the absence of real situations and comparable and contrasting experiences are transformed into concepts.


In the popular sense, judgment means “good sense”, “mental balance” and “prudence”. It is considered that someone who has judgment is sensible, on the contrary, who does not possess it is someone who does not proceed in a correct or correct way. From psychology, we refer to judgment as synonymous with understanding, comprehension, value appreciation and interpretation. This term refers to the process by which individuals make decisions and create conclusions based on available information and material combined with their mental activity (thinking) and experience.

To believe is to formulate a judgment, since the same perception that a belief implies is the one that contains a judgment. We begin to judge on the basis of an original belief in the reality of things and the world in general.

What is peculiar about a judgment is that we affirm or deny the relationship that we have established. The assertion that implicitly contains the activity of judging rests on the nature of perceptions; therefore, the perceptions themselves, like subsequent representations, are imposed on us as real, without the need for further intellectual activity.

Mode of expression of judgment

In its most developed form, judgment is expressed by means of a proposition. In it we distinguish two main elements: the subject, of who affirms or denies something, and the predicate, what is affirmed or denied of the mentioned subject. Between the two is a third element: the copula, which establishes the relationship between the subject and the predicate. For example: in the judgment “Juan is bad”, we have the subject “Juan”, the predicate “bad” and the copula “is” that attributes the second to the first, affirming that this predicate corresponds to that subject.

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From the point of view of language, the verbal expression of judgment is studied. It can then be considered as a grammatical sentence, made up of subject, attribute and verb. But without ignoring the extraordinary importance that language has for the expression of thought, we cannot consider that this is the only manifestation of the judgments, since there are innumerable judgments without words, through signs, through corporal expression or simply through at a glance.

Using the psychological criterion, the functioning of the judgment and its meaning in the psychic life of the individual are studied: the activity of affirming or denying something -the establishment of the judgment itself-, and the assent that is granted to the reality affirmed by the judgment – the spontaneous feeling of confidence in the validity of the judgment.


Reasoning can be defined as an intellectual operation that links a series of judgments, in such a way that the last one will necessarily derive from the previous judgments. It is the action of constructing thoughts in a valid argument.

Human beings use reasoning daily, especially when making decisions. When making a decision, the method of choice is used, where different thoughts are taken that become reasons why an option is chosen over the other available options.

In the act of reasoning, arguments are chosen, hypotheses are selected, applications are sought for what is not understood and problems are solved by the activity of the intellect. When reasoning, cause and effect relationships are mentally recognized, which can occur from the prediction of an event that starts from an observed cause or the inference of a cause from an observed event.

The reasoning is divided into simple and complex: simple is any reasoning that goes directly from one trial to another, and complex is the reasoning in which at least one intermediate term is needed.

Main types of reasoning

The reasoning shows us different forms of relationship between its components. These forms can be studied from the logical or psychological point of view. From the first criterion, several classes of immediate inferences and others of complex reasoning are distinguished; then certain logical differences are established between them that refer to the demonstrative value and the scientific use of these various types of reasoning. From the psychological point of view , all forms of reasoning have the same interest, since they simply show the variety of procedures in the production of thought. Following this criterion, three main types of reasoning are analyzed : inductive, deductive and analog.

Inductive reasoning

Inductive reasoning is a form of reasoning that uses examples, observations, and experiences to construct conclusive propositions. It is a specialized thought aimed at the discovery and construction of a generalized principle through the use of particular cases, special examples and identification of elements or relationships.

Induction is the reasoning that leads from the particular facts to the general relations that govern the domain of those facts. It operates with real events, which is why it tacitly assumes not only the reality of these, but also the regularity of their production.

Inductive reasoning is used primarily to explain properties and relationships with objects or types based on previous observations. It is necessary to understand that inductive arguments do not attempt to establish their conclusions through absolute certainty, but through observable and predictive certainty.

Deductive reasoning

It is the ability to draw some logical conclusions from known statements or evidence. Here one starts with a generalized statement or principle already known or established and applies it to specific cases. For example: all human beings are mortal (statement), therefore, since you are a human being, you are mortal (application of reasoning).

In this form of reasoning, the conclusion follows logically and consistently from the factual premises and the proposition. Deductive arguments are based on the concept of sound and consistent reasoning.

Analog reasoning

Analog reasoning is the most primitive type of reasoning and the first to be developed. This begins to develop in the anal phase of sexual affective development, and is based on the use of analogy – a type of comparison – to develop understanding and meaning.

The analog type of reasoning is commonly used in decision making, problem solving, and communication. The analogy used in this reasoning applies between specimens or specific cases, in which what is known about one specimen is used to infer new information about another specimen. The basic intuition behind analog reasoning is that when there are substantial parallels in different situations, there are likely to be other parallels.

This type of reasoning starts from the simple observation of some similarities and goes so far as to affirm the existence of other relationships that are not directly perceived. It leads to errors very frequently, given its limited validity.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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