Investigating the effect of mental set on insight problem solving.

  title={Investigating the effect of mental set on insight problem solving.},
  author={Michael E. Ollinger and Gary Jones and G{\"u}nther Knoblich},
  journal={Experimental psychology},
  volume={55 4},
Mental set is the tendency to solve certain problems in a fixed way based on previous solutions to similar problems. The moment of insight occurs when a problem cannot be solved using solution methods suggested by prior experience and the problem solver suddenly realizes that the solution requires different solution methods. Mental set and insight have often been linked together and yet no attempt thus far has systematically examined the interplay between the two. Three experiments are… 

Tables from this paper

Insight versus analysis: Evidence for diverse methods in problem solving

Since the Gestalt psychologists made the distinction approximately 100 years ago, psychologists have differentiated between solving problems through analysis versus insight. The present paper

Is Insight Always the Same? A Protocol Analysis of Insight in Compound Remote Associate Problems

Compound Remote Associate problem-solving characteristics were examined in a study in which participants solved CRA problems while providing concurrent verbal protocols, and show that solutions subjectively judged as insight by participants do exhibit some characteristics of insight.

Temporal dynamics of mental impasses underlying insight-like problem solving

The results suggest the impasse may occur initially at a relatively early stage and metacognition plays an important role in insight problem solving.

The temporal dynamics of insight problem solving – restructuring might not always be sudden

The results demonstrate that in a problem that requires restructuring of the initial mental representation, paying progressively more attention to the crucial elements of the problem often preceded the finding of the solution.

Sleep Does Not Promote Solving Classical Insight Problems and Magic Tricks

It is found that sleep affected neither general solution rates nor the number of solutions accompanied by sudden subjective insight, adding to accumulating evidence that sleep does not provide an environment that facilitates the qualitative restructuring of memory representations and enables problem solving.

The dynamics of search, impasse, and representational change provide a coherent explanation of difficulty in the nine-dot problem

The nine-dot problem is often used to demonstrate and explain mental impasse, creativity, and out of the box thinking. The present study investigated the interplay of a restricted initial search

People got lost in solving a set of similar problems

Systemic insight : the interplay between interactivity, incubation and transfer in insight problem solving

This thesis further explored how interactivity prompts insight in a dynamic agent-environment by recording and analysing participants’ actions and confirmed that increasing the level of interactivity resulted in enhanced insight performance.

Solving Classical Insight Problems Without Aha! Experience: 9 Dot, 8 Coin, and Matchstick Arithmetic Problems

It is demonstrated that in many cases participants do solve these classical insight problems without any Aha! experience, and the importance of obtaining insight ratings from participants to determine whether any given problem is solved with insight or not.

A cognitive procedure for representation change in verbal insight problems.

The aim of this study was to develop a novel cognitive procedure for operationalizing how the re-encoding and constraint relaxation, suggested by representational change theory (RCT) (Ohlsson, 1992,



Testing two cognitive theories of insight.

  • Gary Jones
  • Psychology, Business
    Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition
  • 2003
The findings suggest that testable opposing predictions can be made to examine theory of insight and that the use of eye movement data is a fruitful method of both examining insight and testing theories of insight.

Multiple causes of difficulty in insight: the case of the nine-dot problem.

This work argues that the quantitatively small effects of many studies arise because the difficulty of many insight problems is determined by multiple factors, so the removal of 1 factor has limited effect on the solution rate.

Intuition in insight and noninsight problem solving

The difference in phenomenology accompanying insight and noninsight problem solving is proposed to be used to define insight, and the data indicated that noninsights problems were open to accurate predictions of performance, whereas insight problems were opaque to such predictions.

Feeling of knowing in memory and problem solving.

This study investigates feelings of knowing for problem solving and memory. In Experiment 1 subjects judged their feelings of knowing to trivia questions they had been unable to answer, then

An eye movement study of insight problem solving

The present study suggests that eye movement recordings provide an important new window into processes of insight problem solving, providing converging evidence with prior findings using solution rates and solution times.

Expertise as mental set: The effects of domain knowledge in creative problem solving

  • J. Wiley
  • Psychology
    Memory & cognition
  • 1998
A series of three experiments in which an adapted version of Mednick’s (1962) remote associates task was used demonstrates conditions under which domain knowledge may inhibit creative problem solving.

Constraint relaxation and chunk decomposition in insight problem solving

Insight problem solving is characterized by impasses, states of mind in which the thinker does not know what to do next. The authors hypothesized that impasses are broken by changing the problem

Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight

This work observed two objective neural correlates of insight: increased activity in the right hemisphere anterior superior temporal gyrus for insight relative to noninsight solutions and a sudden burst of high-frequency neural activity prior to insight solutions.

Incubation and the persistence of fixation in problem solving.

It is hypothesized that fixation, a block to successful problem solving, may develop during initial solution attempts and persist, interfering with immediate extra work more than with delayed extra work in problem solving.

The Effect of Reportable and Unreportable Hints on Anagram Solution and the Aha! Experience

  • E. Bowden
  • Psychology
    Consciousness and Cognition
  • 1997
Two experiments examine the effects of unreportable hints on anagram solving performance and on solvers' subjective experience of insight and suggest that un reportable processing of solution-related information is important for the insight experience.