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《Journal of Psychological Science》 2012-01
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The Prototype Position Effect in Inventional Problem-Solving

Zhu Haixue, Luo Junlong, Yang Chunjuan, Qiu Jiang, Zhang Qinglin (School of Psychology, Southwest University, Key Laboratory of Personality and Cognition, Ministry of Education, Beibei, Chongqing, 400715)  
There are two influential hypotheses pertaining to the cognitive mechanisim of insight, which is the focus of current research on insight problem solving: (1) the representation changing hypothesis; and (2) the progress monitoring hypothesis. Based on these hypotheses, Zhang Qinglin proposed that in reality, insight should be caused by "prototypal events activation" ; it suggests that the key to solving insight problems is to activate the "prototypal event" correctly and gain " key heuristic information" under experimental conditions. Based on Zhang’s hypothesis, this study was designed to investigate the prototype position effect in inventional problem-solving using inventional problem material. We hypothesized that (1) the main effect of the prototype position reached asignificantlevel; (2) different abilitities of inventional problem-solving might affect prototype position effects; (3) different creative tendencies might affect prototype position effects; (4) different elicitations might affect prototype position effects and creativity. In order to test these hypotheses, we adopted a "one--one" paradigm. In this study, the prototype position contains post-prototype and former-prototype. The participants were divided into two groups. In the first group, the participants were asked to investigate 18 former-prototype inventional problems first and then investigate 18 post-prototype inventional problems. The second group was opposite: the participants were asked to study 18 post-prototype inventional problems first and then study 18 former-prototype inventional problems. The instruments used in the experiments were the Williams Creativity Assessment Packet(CAP), 36 inventional problems and SPSS 17.0 for statistical analyses. The results showed that under the experimental condition, the main effect of the prototype position reached a significant level; the prototype position effect was affected by the creative tendency which was measured by Williams Creativity Assessment Packet; the prototype position effect was also affected by the the inventional problem-solving ability which was divided by inventional problem-solving score; however, no significant influence of elicitation on the prototype position effect was found, whereas the interation effect of elicitation and creativity reached a significant level. Therefore, we concluded as follows: (1) the main effect of the prototype position reached a significant level, and the mean inventional problem-solving score for post-prototype was higher than for former-prototype, which indicated that the post-prototype activated heuristic information in prototypal matters and the former-prototype activated the whole prototype; (2) the prototype position effect was affected by creative tendency, and was more significantly affected by the decreasing of the amount of creative tendency; (3) the interation effect of prototype position and elicitation was not significant, but different creative individuals were greatly affected by elicitation and the low-creative group was more enlightened; (4) significant relationships between inventional problem-solving score and creative tendency score were observed and they revealed the same effect in the prototype position effect, which indicated that the experimental material possessed a certain creativity.
【Fund】: 西南大学国家重点学科“基础心理学”项目(西国重NSKD08002);; 国家自然科学基金项目(30800293)资助
【CateGory Index】: B842
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