Analogical Problem Solving: A Common Explanation, but a Rare Observation
Cushen, Patrick J.
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Given the widespread belief that analogical processing is an important mechanism for creative problem solving, but a lack of evidence for spontaneous transfer in laboratory studies, a critical direction for future research is to address which abilities may allow for the spontaneous analogizing between distant (superficially dissimilar) sources and targets. This research explored the relationships between individual differences in a range of executive functions and abilities, source representation, and spontaneous analogical transfer. Participants attempted to solve Duncker's radiation problem after having been exposed to a distant source as part of an earlier task. Results indicated that both focused and diffuse attention, as well as representation quality, predicted spontaneous transfer between a superficially dissimilar source and target.