We investigated the role of representational change and unconscious processing in Aha!-experience using a new experimental paradigm. Participants solved anagrams containing a word shorter than the solution by one letter. We used true (related to solutions) and false (related to short words) pictorial hints presented for 1000 ms or 17 ms (reportable/unreportable hints) to manipulate solvers’ representation. Reportable and unreportable true hints increased the probability of the correct solution and decreased the response time, while reportable and unreportable false hints increased the probability of specific intrusion errors (short words) but had no effect on the response time. Contrary to the representational change and unconscious processing accounts, neither reportable false hints nor unreportable true hints led to higher Aha!-experience ratings. Solutions of anagrams presented without hints received the highest Aha!-experience ratings. The results support the usefulness of the paradigm for insight problem research, and raise questions about the nature of Aha!-experiences.
Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- processing fluency
- representational change
- unconscious processing