Wayfinding and restructuring in a novel city: an insight problem solving task

Abstract

Navigating in a novel environment can serve as an applied insight problem solving task, since many people gain a sudden, clear understanding (Aha-moment) of the spatial relations after being lost. With a unique design, we transformed the city center of a medieval German city into a virtual maze. The aim of the study was to test whether a spatial decision making task simulating real navigation would be feasible for investigating insight problem solving. Participants learned two pathways which they subsequently had to restructure to find their way to the navigation targets. We found evidence for the restructuring of participants’ prior knowledge during the solution attempts. 73% of all problem solvers reported an Aha-moment and there was an error drop at the critical intersection by those who had insight. The slope of the learning curve was established as a measurement of insightful experiences.


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