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Article

An Experimental Approach to Investigate the Involvement of Cognitive Load in Divergent Thinking

1
Center for Research on Education and School Development, TU Dortmund University, 44227 Dortmund, Germany
2
Institute of Psychology in Education, University of Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany
3
Institute of Psychology, University of Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 October 2020 / Revised: 19 December 2020 / Accepted: 24 December 2020 / Published: 7 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligence and Creativity)
Up to now, support for the idea that a controlled component exists in creative thought has mainly been supported by correlational studies; to further shed light on this issue, we employed an experimental approach. We used four alternate uses tasks that differed in instruction type (“be fluent” vs. “be creative”) and concurrent secondary workload (load vs. no load). A total of 51 participants (39 female) went through all tasks and generated ideas for a total of 16 different objects; their responses were scored in terms of fluency (number of responses generated), creative quality, and flexibility. We did find, as expected, that the be-creative instruction resulted in fewer and more creative ideas, as well as more flexible idea sets, but neither of the expected interaction effects became significant. Specifically, fluency was not affected more strongly by secondary workload in the be-fluent instruction condition than in the be-creative instruction condition. Further, the performance drop evoked by the secondary workload was not stronger in the be-creative instruction condition compared to the be-fluent instruction condition when creative quality or flexibility were examined as dependent variable. Altogether, our results do not confirm that be-creative instructions involve more cognitive load than be-fluent instructions. Nevertheless, the analysis of the serial order effect and additional correlational examinations revealed some promising results. Methodological limitations which may have influenced the results are discussed in light of the inherent suspense between internal and external validity (i.e., most likely the applied self-paced dual-task approach increased external validity, but undermined internal validity) and potentially guide future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: divergent thinking; cognitive load; instructions; be-creative effect; serial order effect divergent thinking; cognitive load; instructions; be-creative effect; serial order effect
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kleinkorres, R.; Forthmann, B.; Holling, H. An Experimental Approach to Investigate the Involvement of Cognitive Load in Divergent Thinking. J. Intell. 2021, 9, 3. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010003

AMA Style

Kleinkorres R, Forthmann B, Holling H. An Experimental Approach to Investigate the Involvement of Cognitive Load in Divergent Thinking. Journal of Intelligence. 2021; 9(1):3. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010003

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kleinkorres, Ruben, Boris Forthmann, and Heinz Holling. 2021. "An Experimental Approach to Investigate the Involvement of Cognitive Load in Divergent Thinking" Journal of Intelligence 9, no. 1: 3. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010003

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