The influence of open goals on the acquisition of problem-relevant information.J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2007; 33(5):876-91JE
There have been a number of recent findings indicating that unsolved problems, or open goals more generally, influence cognition even when the current task has no relation to the task in which the goal was originally set. It was hypothesized that open goals would influence what information entered the problem-solving process. Three studies were conducted to establish the effect of open goals on the acquisition of problem-relevant information. It was found that problem-relevant information, or hints, presented implicitly in a 2nd task in between attempts at solving problems aided problem solving. This effect cannot be attributed to strategic behavior after participants caught on to the manipulation, as most participants were not aware of the relationship. The implications of this research are discussed, including potential contributions to our understanding of insight, incubation, transfer, and creativity.