Is divergent thinking quasi-rational?
Crooks, Courtney Lee
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One cognitive phenomenon that has been discussed within the published literature on problem-solving, but yet remains poorly understood, is diverge nt thinking. Divergent thinking, also known as creative thinking, lateral thinking, and "thinking outside of the box", is the act of solving a problem or reaching a decision using strategies that deviate from commonly used or previously taught strategies. Prior research has shown that divergent thinking is related to the ability to create innovative solutions to problems. It is possible that divergent thinking ability can be linked to analytical and intuitive modes of cognition as described by the Cognitive Continuum Theory (CCT) of Hammond et al. (1987). If divergent thinking is comprised of both analytical and intuitive cognition mechanisms, then divergent thinking may be said to be quasi-rational in nature. Two experiments were conducted in order to examine the influence of divergent thinking ability and propensity for mode of cognition on performance on problem-solving tasks. Two different problem-solving tasks were used that vary on the degree of formal structure. Experiment 1 used a real world problem (RWP), and Experiment 2 used a version of a "Gin" game configured to represent a contingency formation and implementation task. Correlational analyses and general factorial analyses were conducted in order to test the proposed hypotheses. Results indicated that task type, divergent thinking ability, and self-perceived innovativeness exerted a combined effect on both the RWP and "Gin" game performance.