Analogy-Induced Forgetting: Inhibitory Mechanisms During Analogical Transfer
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Connecting prior experiences to current problems is one means of generating solutions and is important for creative cognition. However, people often fail to retrieve useful solutions when cued with a novel problem. When non-useful sources of information (containing unviable solutions) are activated, inhibitory mechanisms may be needed to overcome this competition so that more useful sources (containing viable solutions) can be considered. These experiments explored the role of surface-similarity and accessibility of potential analogues in producing competition among multiple candidate solutions. A forgetting paradigm (Experiment 1) and a reminding paradigm (Experiment 2) were used to test for competition from unviable but surface-similar solutions presented in separate stories. Experiment 3 utilized a forgetting paradigm to test for competition arising from multiple solutions embedded within a single story context. Predictions from prior work on analogical transfer and problem solving have highlighted how surface similarity misdirects solution attempts and has implicated the need to reduce competition from non-useful surface-only analogues. In contrast, these studies showed that it was when multiple candidate solutions were embedded within a single source story that the most robust forgetting of unviable solutions was found.