Catherine A. Clement
Past research has indicated that insight problem solving can be improved by training programs that provide general strategies for approaching problems. Many of these programs also provide opportunities to study example problems. The goal of the current study is to investigate the usefulness of such programs and determine which, if any, element of the training interventions is most responsible for increased insight problem solving ability. College students were randomly assigned to either a control condition or to one of three training interventions. Participants in the strategy training condition received general instructions designed to help them identify false assumptions, a common obstacle in solving insight problems. Participants in the applied strategy condition received four example problems with solution descriptions that identified the false assumption commonly made in each. Participants in the combination condition received both strategy instructions and the solved examples. All participants completed a series of eight test problems that consisted of both verbal and spatial insight problems. I predicted that solution rates for the strategy and applied strategy groups would be higher than rates of the control group, and that the combination-training group would outperform all others. Results partially supported the hypotheses. The applied strategy instruction condition was significantly better than the control group; no other group differences were significant. Future research will explore why the applied strategy condition was the most effective.