The Intensity of the Insight Experience in Problem Solving: Structural and Dynamic Properties
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Field theory of Lewin was used to analyze the experience of insight problem solving. It was proposed that insight is characterized by the intensity of the experience at the moment of solution. It was argued that the intensity of the insight experience depends on the experienced degree of difficulty of the problem for an individual. The experienced degree of difficulty was conceptualized as a two-fold notion: It was defined by the interdependence of the degree of restructuring involved in the problem and the dynamics of the solution process, which causes the change in the state of tension experienced by the problem solver. Two hypotheses were formulated outlining the relationship between the intensity of the insight experience and both the degree of restructuring required to solve the problem and the amount of tension released in the system with the solution. The developed theoretical framework was investigated in the domain of matchstick arithmetic problems. A measure of the degree of restructuring for this domain was developed, and a preliminary test of the measure was carried out. Four experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of the degree of restructuring and the amount of tension on the intensity of the insight experience. The results showed that the solution of a problem that required higher degree of restructuring resulted in a more intense experience of insight. Moreover, when the same problem was solved with higher level of tension, it led to a more intense experience of insight. Thus, it was empirically shown that the intensity of the insight experience was affected by both structural and dynamic properties of the solution process. The theoretical framework, the design of the experiments, and the results are discussed.