Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Kelly Goedert

Committee Member

Marianne Lloyd

Committee Member

Susan Teague

Committee Member

Janine Buckner

Keywords

Self-construal research, Interdependent self-construal, Independent self-construal, Insight problem solving

Abstract

Self-construal research has shown that the way people view themselves impacts a variety of cognitive processes. Research has focused on two levels of self-construal: the interdependent self-construal, or when the self is represented in relation to others, and the independent self­ construal, or when the self is represented independently of others. Findings from the self­ construal and cognition research suggest that the interdependent self is associated with diffuse attention, while findings from the self-construal and creativity research indicate that the independent self is associated with divergent thinking important for creativity. The present study examined the effect of self-construal priming in the novel domain of insight problem solving. Insight problem solving is an all-at-once means of problem solving that is considered a measure of creativity, and is associated with diffuse attention. In the present study, participants received either an interdependent or independent prime prior to solving a set of compound remote associate (CRA) problems--a set of creative problems that can be solved either analytically or via insight. Overall, participants receiving the independent prime solved more of the CRAs. However, the expected effect of priming on the number of self-reported insight solutions did not emerge: there was no effect of self-construal prime on the proportion of solutions achieved via insight. This mixed pattern of results provides provisional support for the role of the independent self-construal in creative thinking, but does not conclusively support, nor refute a role for self-construal level in insight problem solving. Rather, further research is needed to clarify the relationship between the two.

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