DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00260

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2018/50:3 PP.260-269

The effect of prototype difficulty and semantic similarity on the prototype activation

Amount of historical anecdotes suggest that the heuristic prototype is an effective method to get insight. The prototype heuristic theory suppose that insight obtain when people activate a prototypical example in nature and apply it to the problem at hand. In the real life, people often encounter a problem and then a heuristic prototype help them solve this problem. Some previous studies used the quartering problem and demonstrated that the automatic activation of prototype was the key process of prototype heuristic. However, this relationship was needed to test with real-life scientific innovation problems. Moreover, the mechanism of prototype activation also needed to explore further. Thus, present study used two experiments to test the cognitive mechanism of the prototype activation with real-life scientific innovation materials.
In experiment 1, forty-eight participants were recruited to complete the prototype heuristic task. There were two stages in this task. In the first stage, participants needed to learn ten scientific problems that were randomly presented. They should press some buttons to indicate whether they have some knowledge of these problems. In the second phase, ten prototypes were presented and participants should first write which scientific problem learnt in the first stages could be solved by the current prototype. Then, participants needed to write how to solve the previous scientific problem with current prototype. The dependent variables were the prototype activation and the accuracy of the problem solving. In experiment 2, forty-seven participants completed the prototype heuristic task. The procedure was the same with experiment 1 and the prototype activation was the dependent variable.
In experiment 1, a regression analysis was conducted. In this analysis, the problem activation was the independent variable and the accuracy of the problem solving was the dependent variable. The result of the regression analysis was R2=0.893, p < 0.001. This result suggested that the problem activation was the key process of problem solving. The results of experiment 2 showed that retrieval of the key words of the scientific problem significantly influenced the association of the problem and the prototype, t(44)=27.677, p < 0.001. Moreover, match of the key words of the prototype and scientific problem significantly influenced the activation of the problem, t(44)=8.744, p < 0.001. In addition, semantic similarity between the key words of the scientific problem and the prototype was significantly correlated with the problem activation, r=0.202, p < 0.05. The results also showed that the difficulty of the prototype significantly influenced the problem activation, F(2,132)=96.73, p < 0.001, ηp2=0.594.
In summary, the results suggest that problem activation was the key process in the real-life problem solving enhanced by heuristic prototype. The semantic similarity between the feature function of the prototype and the required function of the problem is the mechanism of the problem activation.

Key words:creativity,insight,scientific innovation,prototype heuristic,semantic similarity

ReleaseDate:2018-03-29 16:23:26

Bergstrom, C. M., Pugh, K. J., Phillips, M. M., & Machlev, M. (2016). Effects of problem-based learning on recognition learning and transfer accounting for GPA and goal orientation. The Journal of Experimental Education, 84(4), 764-786.

Bowden, E. M., Jung-Beeman, M., Fleck, J., & Kounios, J. (2005). New approaches to demystifying insight. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(7), 322-328.

Cao, G. K., Yang, D., & Zhang, Q. L. (2006). Activation of prototypal matters in insight problem solving:An automatic or controllable processing? Psychological Science, 29(5), 1123-1127.

[曹贵康, 杨东, 张庆林. (2006). 顿悟问题解决的原型事件激活:自动还是控制. 心理科学, 29(5), 1123-1127.]

Duncker, K. (1945). On problem-solving (L. S. Lees, Trans.). Psychological Monographs, 58(5), 1-113.

Green, A. E., Kraemer, D. J., Fugelsang, J. A., Gray, J. R., & Dunbar, K. N. (2012). Neural correlates of creativity in analogical reasoning. Journal of Experimental Psychology:Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(2), 264-272.

Hao, X., Cui, S., Li, W. F., Yang, W. J., Qiu, J., & Zhang, Q. L. (2013). Enhancing insight in scientific problem solving by highlighting the functional features of prototypes:An fMRI study. Brain Research, 1534, 46-54.

Holyoak, K. J., & Koh, K. (1987). Surface and structural similarity in analogical transfer. Memory & Cognition, 15(4), 332-340.

Kaplan, C. A., & Simon, H. A. (1990). In search of insight. Cognitive Psychology, 22(3), 374-419.

Karantzas, G. C., Avery, M. R., Macfarlane, S., Mussap, A., Tooley, G., Hazelwood, Z., & Fitness, J. (2013). Enhancing critical analysis and problem-solving skills in undergraduate psychology:An evaluation of a collaborative learning and problem-based learning approach. Australian Journal of Psychology, 65(1), 38-45.

Knoblich, G., Ohlsson, S., Haider, H., & Rhenius, D. (1999). Constraint relaxation and chunk decomposition in insight problem solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology:Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25(6), 1534-1555.

Kounios, J., & Beeman, M. (2014). The cognitive neuroscience of insight. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 71-93.

Kubricht, J. R., Lu, H., & Holyoak, K. J. (2017). Individual differences in spontaneous analogical transfer. Memory & Cognition, 45(4), 576-588.

Luo, J. (2004).Neural correlates of insight. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 36(2), 219-234.

[罗劲. (2004). 顿悟的大脑机制.心理学报, 36(2), 219-234.]

Luo, J., & Knoblich, G. (2007). Studying insight problem solving with neuroscientific methods. Methods, 42(1), 77-86.

Luo, J., & Niki, K. (2003). Function of hippocampus in "insight" of problem solving. Hippocampus, 13(3), 316-323.

Luo, J. L., Li, W. F., Qiu, J., Wei, D. T., Liu, Y. J., & Zhang, Q. L. (2013). Neural basis of scientific innovation induced by heuristic prototype. PLoS One, 8, e49231.

Maier, N. R. F. (1930). Reasoning in humans. I. On direction. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 10(2), 115-143.

Martinsen, Ø. L., Furnham, A., & Hærem, T. (2016). An integrated perspective on insight. Journal of Experimental Psychology:General, 145(10), 1319-1332.

McCaffrey, T. (2012). Innovation relies on the obscure a key to overcoming the classic problem of functional fixedness. Psychological Science, 23(3), 215-218.

Ming, D., Tong, D. D., Yang, W. J., Qiu, J., & Zhang, Q. L. (2014). How can we gain insight in scientific innovation? Prototype heuristic is one key. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 14, 98-106.

Öllinger, M., Jones, G., Faber, A. H., & Knoblich, G. (2013). Cognitive mechanisms of insight:the role of heuristics and representational change in solving the eight-coin problem. Journal of Experimental Psychology:Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(3), 931-939.

Qiu, J., Li, H., Jou, J., Liu, J., Luo, Y. J., Feng, T. Y., … Zhang, Q. L. (2010). Neural correlates of the "Aha" experiences:Evidence from an fMRI study of insight problem solving. Cortex, 46(3), 397-403.

Schauble, L. (1996). The development of scientific reasoning in knowledge-rich contexts. Developmental Psychology, 32(1), 102-119.

Scheerer, M. (1963). Problem-solving. Scientific American, 208(4), 118-128.

Yang, W. J., Dietrich, A., Liu, P. D., Ming, D., Jin, Y. L., Nusbaum, H. C., … Zhang, Q. L. (2016). Prototypes are key heuristic information in insight problem solving. Creativity Research Journal, 28(1), 67-77.

Yeh, Y. C., Tsai, J. L., Hsu, W. C., & Lin, C. F. (2014). A model of how working memory capacity influences insight problem solving in situations with multiple visual representations:An eye tracking analysis. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 13, 153-167.

Zelazo, P. D., Carter, A., Reznick, J. S., & Frye, D. (1997). Early development of executive function:A problem-solving framework. Review of General Psychology, 1(2), 198-226.

Zhang, Q. L., Qiu, J. & Cao, G. K. (2004). A review and hypothesis about the cognitive mechanism of insight. Psychological Science, 27(6), 1435-1437.

[张庆林, 邱江, 曹贵康. (2004). 顿悟认知机制的研究述评与理论构想. 心理科学, 27(6), 1435-1437.]

Zhang, Q. L., Tian, Y., & Qiu, J. (2012) Automatic activation of prototype representation in insight:The sources of inspiration. Journal of Southwest University (Natural Science Edition), 34(9), 1-10.

[张庆林, 田燕, 邱江. (2012). 顿悟中原型激活的大脑自动响应机制:灵感机制初探. 西南大学学报(自然科学版), 34(9), 1-10.]

Zhu, D., Luo, J. L., Zhu, H. X., Qiu, J., & Zhang, Q. L. (2011). The prototype heuristic effect in the scientific innovation process. Journal of Southwest University (Social Sciences Edition), 37(5), 144-149.

[朱丹, 罗俊龙, 朱海雪, 邱江, 张庆林. (2011). 科学发明创造思维过程中的原型启发效应. 西南大学学报 (社会科学版), 37(5), 144-149.]