11 signs you’re a complex thinker whose mind works differently, according to psychology

Imagine you’re faced with a maze. 

There’s no map, just your wits and the walls around you.

How you navigate this maze – quickly assuming dead ends or cautiously exploring each turn – reveals more about your thinking than you might guess.

This doesn’t really have much to do with finding your way out. It has more to do with how you handle the unknown and uncertain. 

It’s about how much of a complex thinker you are. 

But how do you know that you are indeed one? 

Let’s find out together by exploring what it means to be a complex thinker who works differently, according to psychologists.

1) You prioritize evidence-based practices

As a healthcare professional, this is something we’ve always been taught to adopt as a habit in our day to day work life.

It’s a practice that involves verifying the facts and research behind ideas before accepting them. And according to our professors, it’s a habit that shows your mind functions on a deeper level of thought.

Experts from the British Psychological Society (BPS) support this, noting that people who focus on evidence-based practices tend to make more reliable and successful decisions. 

You know you’re a complex thinker if you’re not the type to jump on the latest trend just because everyone else is. 

Whether it’s a new health diet or a financial investment, you’re the person who needs real data and not just hype.

Your decisions are based on what’s proven to work, not just guesswork. 

2) You are too sensitive to the quality of evidence

Even after encountering evidence-based information, a complex thinker like you probably won’t stop there. 

You’re likely to take a step back to scrutinize and question it a little deeper before taking it as truth.

Look at it this way:

Say you’re reading two news articles on the same topic. While both present their share of evidence, they end up with very different conclusions.

How do you decide which one to trust?

You won’t just flip a coin. Instead, you do a bit of detective work.

You check where the information is coming from, who’s behind the research, and whether other experts back it up.

You’re not doing this to pick sides. 

You’re doing it because your mind works differently. It’s this complex mind that’s pushing you to understand how strong each side’s arguments are.

As the BPS experts remind us, knowing how to judge the quality of evidence is a skill essential for making not only smart, but unbiased choices.

3) You understand the importance of context in decision-making

Other than critically diving into the evidence, you also understand that context matters when making decisions.

This means you look at the bigger picture and consider the different environmental or situational factors that could influence outcomes. 

Another way to interpret this is that you understand that the right choice in one situation might not be the right in another due to different circumstances. 

But don’t take my word for it. 

Again, I bring you back to the British Psychological Society who stress that your ability to adjust your thinking and decision-making based on context is a telltale sign of a complex thinker.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, take it from the experience of one creative and complex thinker, too:

“The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs

4) You recognize the difference between correlation and causation

If you instinctively question whether one event actually causes another or if they just happen to occur at the same time, you’re engaging in a level of analytical thinking that separates complex thinkers from the rest.

BPS experts note that this type of thinking helps you avoid mistakes that can lead to wrong beliefs or ineffective actions.

In short, you know you’re a complex thinker if you understand that just because two trends coincide, it doesn’t mean one causes the other. 

Knowing this distinction prevents you from any misinterpretation and guides you into more accurate decisions and conclusions when it comes to both your personal and professional lives.

5) You’re open to different viewpoints

A complex thinker isn’t a close-minded one.

At least I think this is what BPS experts mean when they say that openness to diverse viewpoints is linked to higher creativity and better problem-solving skills.

Part of your mind working differently is your understanding that you don’t have all the answers. And it is this self-awareness that allows you to open yourself to the insight of others. 

And when you think about it, it’s this openness that actually enhances your ability to think of out-of-the box solutions for problems.

Because you don’t confine yourself into a single perspective, you become a complex thinking and well-rounded individual.

6) You handle uncertainty well

If you can deal with unclear situations without stress, it shows your mental flexibility and complex level thinking.

Although you’re very conscious of and sensitive to evidence, you also don’t need all the answers to make decisions.

Because you’re a complex thinker, you can weigh what you know, accept what you don’t and still move forward. 

Again, according to the BPS, this isn’t only a sign of complex thinking but it’s also a great display of emotional resilience

They say your ability to maintain effective thinking and decision making under uncertain conditions is a highly sought skill in the professional arena and an important life skill for people to develop in their personal lives.

7) You think about your own thinking

That heading might be a bit confusing, but hear me out:

Part of being a complex thinker is your ability to reflect on your own thoughts and actions and even go as far as questioning your own beliefs and assumptions.

We’ve already touched on self-awareness earlier and to reiterate, it’s this self-awareness that helps you understand not just what you think, but why you think it.

Look at it this way:

When you critically assess your own thoughts, you can identify areas for improvement and continue to refine your cognitive and emotional skills.

It’s this type of ongoing self-evaluation that sets apart critical thinkers like you from others who just go with the flow even if it means stagnation.

8) You love to learn

Speaking of ongoing self-evaluation, another important indicator of your complex thinking is your insatiable love for learning.

You always want to know more about the world. 

Whether it’s reading about new topics, researching deeply, or exploring different cultures and ideas, you’re one who’s constantly seeking knowledge.

You’ll probably find that you’re great at out-of-the box ideas, too. As BPS experts explain, this love for learning is linked to better problem-solving and creativity.

Your curiosity pushes you to find new experiences and information, which not only broadens your understanding, but helps you connect with various aspects of life and different people.

9) You apply your knowledge to real-world problems

Sure, you may know a lot and you may think differently, but that doesn’t really do any good if you don’t apply it to real life, right?

That’s what separates the theoretical complex thinkers to the practical ones.

Here’s what I mean:

If you often find yourself applying what you’ve learned in real life scenarios, whether at work, in your personal projects, or in your everyday life decisions, that’s you proving your thinking isn’t only theoretical but practical. 

As the old saying goes:

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

10) You use psychological insights in your daily choices 

This doesn’t mean you need to be a psychology expert or graduate. 

Having a basic understanding of psychological insights and using them to guide your decisions and understand how people think and feel is more than enough to indicate a deeper level of thinking.

In fact, according to the BPS, this approach shows a sophisticated way of thinking that shows how much you value the complexity of human interactions.

Apparently, it’s this type of thinking that helps you become great at negotiating, persuading, or even supporting others.

A complex thinker like you understands that knowing the reasons behind people’s behaviors help you handle social interactions better and make you better at making decisions that aren’t only logical, but also caring ones.

11) You’re a master problem solver

Of course this list wouldn’t end without acknowledging one of your best assets as a complex thinker – your excellence in problem solving.

Mind you, problem-solving is more than just finding solutions, and there’s no one who knows this more than a complex thinker like you. 

You know that being a great problem solver starts from the ability to identify problems, moves to brainstorming possible approaches, and ends with choosing the most effective one. 

Based on input from the BPS, psychologists consider this skill as a display of an individual’s advanced cognitive functions. 

This means that if you find yourself relating to these skills, it’s likely because you’re a deep thinker who is capable of solving problems that otherwise stump others. 

Final challenge

Think about the last time you watched a movie that ended with an unexpected twist.

Didn’t it make you rethink everything you just saw?

I use this example because that’s pretty much what complex thinkers experience regularly, only in real life. 

As you can see from our list above, they continuously re-evaluate and question, even when things seem straightforward. 

Their thinking is all about recognizing that there’s always more to understand, that there’s always another way to view the picture.

If this sounds like you, keep doing what you’re doing. 

If not, here’s a challenge for you:

The next time you’re sure about something, take a moment to reconsider it. What new things can you learn from looking at it again?

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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