Interacting physically with insight problems does not affect problem solving process

AbstractSo-called insight problems are believed to tap into sudden, creative thinking that is crucial for real problems. In contrast, recent findings suggest that solving insight problems depends on the same cognitive mechanisms that underpin systematic, analytical thinking. However, existing studies may have low ecological validity, because insight problems were usually presented in static formats (on paper, computer screen) which allowed no physical interaction with the problem elements. This study administered 8 established insight problems either in the static or interactive variants. It also probed two markers of analytical thinking: working memory capacity and reasoning ability. Virtually no difference in performance was observed between the static and interactive variants of insight problems with regard to (1) solution rate, (2) subjective experience of suddenness, pleasure, and relief accompanying the solutions, as well as (3) correlations with the working memory capacity and analytical reasoning tests. These results suggest that externalized/embodied/situated factors play no substantial role in insight problem solving and the crucial parts of this process seem to occur in the mind of a solver.

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