Classic studies have examined the factors that influence the way in which people can solve difficult "insight" problems, which require creative solutions. Recent research has shown that guiding one's eye movements in a pattern spatially congruent with the solution improves the likelihood of formulating a spatial solution. The authors in this line of research argued that guiding eye movements in a pattern spatially equivalent to the solution of the problem yields an embodied cognitive benefit that aids problem solving. Specifically, guiding eye movements leads to the generation of a mental representation containing perceptual information that helps a problem solver mentally simulate the problem features, increasing likelihood to generate a solution to the problem. However, evidence from a small but critically relevant area of research supports that this embodied effect may be more simply a creativity-priming effect. The proposed research aimed to disentangle these ideas while addressing other research questions of interest: do embodied problem solving benefits transfer to later problem solving? Do individual differences in spatial ability influence how people solve these problems? The present study combined previously established methodologies in problem solving and analogical problem solving to investigate these research questions. Results of the present work tentatively support the embodied priming effect, mediated by a creativity-priming effect that influences problem solving performance. Both effects emerged after manipulating problem solvers' eye movements. There is also modest support for a link between spatial ability and analogical problem solving, but not initial problem solving. These results are interpreted through the lens of embodied cognitive theory, providing tentative support that guiding eye movements can influence reasoning through an enhancement of creativity.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Schroeder, Bradford, "Eye Movements and Spatial Ability: Influences on Thinking During Analogical Problem Solving" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6268.