Effects of supraliminal and subliminal hint priming on insight problem solving.

Abstract

In two experiments, a total of 135 participants engaged in a 10-coin problem for four minutes. Half of them were exposed to a hint figure one time per ten seconds. In Experiment 1, the hint figure was presented for one second, and participants were told that this figure was unrelated to the problem (supraliminal priming). Thus, they were aware of the figure, but they were unaware that it served as a hint. In Experiment 2, the hint was presented for thirty milliseconds, and it was masked by geometric configurations (subliminal priming). This ensured that participants were unaware of the hint. Both types of hint increased the solution rate. These results suggest that the conscious access to the hint is not essential for the priming effects. Exposure to a hint can activate insightful ideas without awareness, and it increases the probability of producing an appropriate strategy to escape from an impasse.


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