An Insight into Language: Investigating Lexical and Morphological Effects in Compound Remote Associate Problem Solving

AbstractUnderstanding the processes leading to insight has remained one of psychology’s greatest challenges. In this study, we examined how different lexical properties affect cognitive processes involved in a popular class of insight problems: Compound Remote Associates (CRAs). These properties were familiarity, lexeme dominance, and semantic transparency. We found that a higher proportion of problems were solved when they were presented beginning with the most familiar cues, but not when they began with right-headed dominant or the most semantically transparent cues. Further, we found that participants focused their efforts disproportionately on first and last cues, that subjective ratings of insight decreased as trial times elapsed, and that the magnitude of reported insight increased with the number of cues successfully solved. This suggests that participants can monitor their progress in such problems. These results contest longstanding assumptions of requisite periods of impasse and the absence of incremental progress in insightful problem solving.

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