Automatic and Strategic Search During Analogical Retrieval

Abstract

The present study investigates two key aspects of analogical retrieval: (1) whether activities different from problem solving automatically elicit a search for analogical sources, and (2) whether strategic search can overcome the superficial bias observed in classical experiments. In Experiment 1, participants generated persuasive arguments for a target analog under three experimental conditions: without indication to use analogies, with instruction to use analogies, and with indication to search for sources within four predefined domains. Responses from the first condition showed that argumentation rarely triggers spontaneous analogical retrievals. Results from the remaining conditions demonstrated that the superficial bias can be strategically reversed when participants are suggested to focus on specific domains. Experiment 2 replicated this last result with the simple instruction to search within domains different from that of the target (i.e., without being provided with a list of specific domains). The theoretical and educational implications of these findings are discussed.


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