There is a general assumption that a more controlled or more focused attentional state is beneficial for most cognitive tasks. However, there has been a growing realization that creative problem solving tasks, such as the Remote Associates Task (RAT), may benefit from a less controlled solution approach. To test this hypothesis, in a 2x2 design, we manipulated whether solvers were given the RAT before or after an implicit learning task. We also varied whether they were told to “use their gut” as part of either initial task. The results suggest that a less analytic approach engendered by a “use your gut” instruction benefits performance on the RAT for monolingual solvers. The same benefit was not found for bilingual speakers suggesting that more controlled solution processes may be needed when speakers with multiple lexicons perform this task, which relies heavily on accessing common phrases in a particular language.
Aiello, Daniel A.; Jarosz, Andrew F.; Cushen, Patrick J.; and Wiley, Jennifer
"Firing the Executive: When an Analytic Approach to Problem Solving Helps and Hurts,"
The Journal of Problem Solving:
2, Article 7.