6 Types of Information (With Examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 1, 2022
Published April 20, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Information solves uncertainty. It defines what an entity or concept is and the essence and nature of it, helping people understand instructions, explanations, examples and theories. Understanding information and information sources can help you develop professional capabilities, like communication skills, to use across any industry or role.
In this article, we define what information is, examine in depth the six different varieties of information and how to apply them in business, and discuss four other common classifications of information.
What is information?
Information is a fact, thought or data conveyed or described through various types of communication, like written, oral, visual and audio communications. It is knowledge shared or obtained through study, instruction, investigation or news and you share it through the act of communicating, whether verbally, nonverbally, visually, or through written word. Information has different names, including intelligence, message, data, signal or fact. Knowing what type of information you need or how to share it can help you save time, stay organized and establish best practices for divulging information.
Words often associated with information include:
6 types of information
There are six types of information. Here we inspect each one in depth to help you better understand them all:
1. Conceptual information
Conceptual information comes from ideas, theories, concepts, hypotheses and more. With conceptual information, an abstract idea is not always rooted in a scientific foundation and rather is the fundamental creation of beliefs, thoughts, philosophies and preferences. You can form or share conceptual information through comparison and reflection, creating philosophies that cannot be proven or seen.
Here are some examples of conceptual information:
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution
Copernican concept of astronomy
Conceptual art, where the method of producing it is more important than the finished product
2. Procedural information
Procedural information, or imperative knowledge, is the method of how someone knows to do something and is used by performing a task. You can refer to it as muscle memory since it is knowledge that is hard to explain and stored deeply in your mind.
Here are two examples of procedural information:
Riding a bicycle: Riding a bike takes physical practice to comprehend, regardless of the amount or type of instructions given.
Driving a car: You can pass your written driving test or get a perfect score, though have little knowledge of the procedural information it takes to operate and drive a vehicle.
Tying a shoelace: Because the concept is hard to explain, it may take a child several attempts to first learn how to tie a shoelace, even with visual examples and descriptive words.
3. Policy information
Policy information focuses on decision-making and the design, formation and selection of policies. It comprises laws, guidelines, regulations, rules and oversight for an organization, group of people or place. You can gain policy information through pictures, diagrams, descriptions and other visual, audio or written messages.
Here are some examples of policy information:
Food pyramid diagram
Periodic table of elements
The United States Constitution
Government restrictive, regulatory or facilitating policies
4. Stimulatory information
Stimulatory information is information that creates a response or stimulation amongst a person or group of people. Stimulation encourages the cause of activity and you can gain stimulatory information in a variety of ways, like in person through observation, through word-of-mouth communication or through outlets like the news.
One example may be a person observing the nonverbal communication of someone passing by. If the stimulation is positive, they may say hello and start a conversation perhaps or, if the stimulation is not positive, they may respond by moving in the other direction, running away or creating more distance between them.
Here are other examples of stimulatory information:
Victory day celebrations after a sports team wins a championship
The physiological fight-or-flight reaction response to perceived harm
Related: Communicating with Nonverbal Cues
5. Empirical information
Empirical information means information gained through human senses, observation, experimentation and the testing of a hypothesis by establishing documentation of patterns or behavior. It almost always has a scientific foundation and verifies the truth or falsehood of a claim through qualitative and quantitative factors.
Here are several examples of empirical information, rooted in science:
Theory of gravity
Kinetic theory of matter
Genetics and DNA
Empirical evidence and information are the opposite of anecdotal information and evidence, which is a conclusion based on informal collection methods, most often a personal experience and testimony.
6. Directive information
Directive and descriptive information is about providing directions to a person or group of people to achieve a particular result and outcome. You can use directive information with or without dictating the means to achieve the desired result. Directive information often comes in verbal or written form and can apply to leadership at work, in the military or government and with everyday experiences, like legal, life and safety matters.
Here are some examples of directive and descriptive information:
Medical do not resuscitate (DNR) orders
Organ donation paperwork
Mode of operations in any organization
Employment performance reviews
Other classifications of information
Another way to classify information is through these four attributes:
Factual information: Factual information deals only with truthful and proven concepts, like the scientific fact the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Analytical information: Analytical information is the interpretation of factual information, determining what is implied or inferred, like you can make ice cubes by storing them in freezers colder than 32 degrees.
Subjective information: Subjective information is that from one point of view, like opinions.
Objective information: Objective information is that from several points of view that offer all sides of an argument, like scientific or medical journal articles and publications.
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