Creative Interference and States of Potentiality in Analogy Problem Solving

Abstract

Creative processes are widely believed to involve the generation of multiple, discrete, well-defined possibilities followed by exploration and selection. An alternative, consistent with parallel distributed processing models of associative memory, is that creativity involves the merging and interference of memory items resulting in a single cognitive structure that is ill-defined, and can thus be said to exist in a state of potentiality. We tested this hypothesis in an experiment in which participants were interrupted midway through solving an analogy problem and asked what they were thinking in terms of a solution. Naïve judges categorized their responses as AP if there was evidence of merging solution sources from memory resulting in an ill-defined idea, and SM if there was no evidence of this. Data from frequency counts and mean number of SM versus AP judgments supported the hypothesis that midway through creative processing an idea is in a potentiality state.


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