Major

Psychology

Department

Psychology

Degree

Undergraduate

Abstract

An incubation effect refers to improvements in problem solving after an individual takes a break from working on a problem. Previous research suggests several explanations for incubation effects. For example, some research has shown that subjects benefit most from a break when they are given an undemanding task rather than a demanding task during the break (incubation period) (Baird, Smallwood, Mrazek, Franklin, & Schooler, 2012). The undemanding task allows mind wandering, which is believed to create the opportunity for new insights into previously attempted problems. Other research has shown that a break allows subjects to overcome fixation on overly narrow approaches to a problem (Smith & Blankenship, 1989). In the present study, we further explore these explanations. EKU Psychology students are asked to solve Unusual Uses Task problems (e.g. find “unusual uses for a brick”) (Guilford, 1967). We look at success on second attempts to solve these problems among subjects who either do not receive a break, receive a break that includes a demanding task, or receive a break that includes an undemanding task. We predict that a break with an undemanding task will lead to the greatest success later on previously attempted problems.

Presentation format

Poster

Expected Graduation Date

2014

Course Number

PSY 403

Course Title

Practicum in Psychology

Professor Email

catherine.clement@eku.edu

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Effect of Incubation and Mind Wandering on Creative Problem Solving

An incubation effect refers to improvements in problem solving after an individual takes a break from working on a problem. Previous research suggests several explanations for incubation effects. For example, some research has shown that subjects benefit most from a break when they are given an undemanding task rather than a demanding task during the break (incubation period) (Baird, Smallwood, Mrazek, Franklin, & Schooler, 2012). The undemanding task allows mind wandering, which is believed to create the opportunity for new insights into previously attempted problems. Other research has shown that a break allows subjects to overcome fixation on overly narrow approaches to a problem (Smith & Blankenship, 1989). In the present study, we further explore these explanations. EKU Psychology students are asked to solve Unusual Uses Task problems (e.g. find “unusual uses for a brick”) (Guilford, 1967). We look at success on second attempts to solve these problems among subjects who either do not receive a break, receive a break that includes a demanding task, or receive a break that includes an undemanding task. We predict that a break with an undemanding task will lead to the greatest success later on previously attempted problems.