Recent evidence suggests that solving problems through insight can enhance long-term memory for the problem and its solution. Previous findings have shown that generation of the solution as well as experiencing a feeling of Aha! can have a beneficial relationship to later memory. These findings lead to the question of how learning in problem-solving tasks in which a novel solution needs to be generated—such as in tasks used to study insight—differs from the classical generation effect. Because previous studies on learning from insight on one hand and the generation effect on the other hand have measured different types of memory, the present study examined two kinds of memory measures: indirect (solving old and new problems at test) and direct (recognition memory). At encoding, we manipulated whether participants had the chance to solve Compound Remote Associates Task items and compared later memory for generated solutions (generate condition) to solutions that were presented after failing to generate one (fail-to-generate condition), and to solutions that were presented without a chance at generation (read condition). Participants also reported if they had an Aha! experience for each problem. While both Aha! experiences and generated solutions were associated with more positive emotional responses, only the generation variable was associated with differences in later memory performance. While attempts to generate had an advantage over the read condition in recognition memory performance (generate > fail-to-generate > read), only when generation was successful did it enhance the solution rate of old items during testing (generate > read > fail-to-generate). Contrary to generation effects with other verbal stimuli, these results suggest that the generation effect in problem-solving tasks in which a novel solution needs to be found differs from the classical generation effect. Seeing a correct solution for a longer time (read) seems in the current case to be more helpful for solving the same problem later on, compared to being presented with the solution after a failed attempt at problem solving.
Kizilirmak, Jasmin M.; Wiegmann, Berit; and Richardson-Klavehn, Alan
"Problem Solving as an Encoding Task: A Special Case of the Generation Effect,"
The Journal of Problem Solving: Vol. 9
, Article 5.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jps/vol9/iss1/5