The Susceptibility of Compound Remote Associate Problems to Disruption by Irrelevant Sound: A Window onto the Component Processes Underpinning Creative Cognition?

John Marsh*, Emma Threadgold, Melissa Barker, DAMIEN LITCHFIELD, Federica Degno, Linden Ball

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Controversy exists regarding the processes involved in creative thinking with the Remote Associates Test (RAT) and its more recent variant, the Compound Remote Associates Test (CRAT). We report three experiments that aimed to shed light on the component processes underpinning CRAT performance by using the mere presence of task-irrelevant sound as a key theoretical tool. Experiment 1 revealed that CRAT performance was impaired relative to a quiet condition by the presence of sequences of changing sounds (spoken letters). Experiment 2 generalised this disruption effect to alternating tones of different pitch relative to quiet. In both experiments a nonchanging sound (a repeated letter in Experiment 1; a repeated tone in Experiment 2) produced no disruption relative to quiet. Experiment 3 established that additional disruption was engendered by having to ignore meaningful speech as compared to meaningless speech. These experiments demonstrate that both semantic activation and subvocalisation are important determinants of successful creative thinking with CRAT problems. We suggest that semantic activation underpins solution-generation processes whereas subvocalisation underpins solution-evaluation processes
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Early online date19 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Compound remote associates test
  • insight
  • auditory distraction
  • component processes

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