Thursday, September 25, 2008

Unconscious thought and creative solutions 

Chen-Bo Zhong
there is no doubt that unconscious processes may be most active during sleep but they can also be active while people consciously focus on something—just not the problem you hope to resolve. In our study, we manipulated unconscious thought by distracting participants from the task at hand and focusing them on a different, very cognitive demanding task. Thus, to harness the benefits of unconscious thought, one does not need to lose conscious focus. The key is to focus on an unrelated task while still keeping the goal of resolving the original problem. Second, it partially depends on the complexity of the problem. As it turns out in our research and other work by Dijksterhuis, consciously focusing on a problem is more effective than distraction when the problem does not involve remote connections. The advantages of unconscious thought are most prominent when resolving difficult problems that involve weak associations.

Topics: Creativity | Metaphor | Unconscious

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