Lines of thought

If two people see the same dog in a street, they might react in quite different ways. Their reactions are based on their knowledge, experience and feelings. You might not agree with what they think, but they are using their own logic.

Person 1 might think

That dog is large and has messy fur
It has big teeth.
It looks strong
Itís like a dog in our street.
A large dog once bit my cousin.
My Dad says dogs have fleas.
I donít trust large dogs.

Person 2 might think

That dog is large and has golden fur.
It has a shiny nose and silky ears.
It looks friendly.
Itís like a dog in our street.
My Aunt had a dog like that.
She was so upset when it died.
That dog is lovely. I like it.

What do others think?

Write the word DOG on a sheet of paper. Use large print.
Gather a few friends together.
Hold up your paper. Show them the word.
Ask them to list whatever comes into their minds.
They must not talk to each other while they are writing.
After a few minutes, read out the results.

You will probably get as many different responses as there are people in your group. They will make notes based largely on their personal experiences of dogs. That single word will start a flow of images, memories and ideas in their minds.

Much of this type of thinking follows personal logic. Each personís own knowledge, experience and memories give rise to opinions and values. Emotions and feelings also influence our opinions. In the simple example above, one person likes dogs but the other person does not. However, it would not be logical for either of them to generalise on the basis of their own opinion. We cannot say that all dogs are untrustworthy or all dogs are lovely. These are personal opinions.

One person who did this exercise disliked dogs, so chose to start with CAT. Another liked playing with words, and started with the anagram GOD. Strictly speaking, they did not follow the instructions. However, there is a variation which could be very useful as a mental exercise. If you dislike dogs, make a few notes on their positive points; if like dogs, make notes on their negative points.

It might be easier to start with a word other than DOG. Try one of these:


Go to next in this series: A cat is a table

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