Poster D139, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Creative Cognition under Performance Pressure: Investigating How Anxiety Affects Attentional Styles and Creativity
Kyle Nolla1, Mark Beeman1; 1Northwestern University
Creative cognition involves different attentional resources and strategies in its processes. One way to conceptualize these strategies is in terms of divergent thinking (open-ended production, with leaky attention) and convergent thinking (narrowing evaluation, with selective attention). Existing creative tasks depend on these thinking styles differently--for example, the Alternative Uses Task (AUT) requires continued generation of responses to an open-ended cue. Similarly, Compound Remote Associate Problems (CRAs) require divergence to rapidly access distant associations between words, but also problem-solving that convenes on a correct answer. Even within the CRAs, solving styles differ in their use of convergent/divergent thought: solving by insight requires low-level activation of many concepts which eventually converge to a solution, while analytic solving is a more directed, step-by-step method to find a solution. Because these thinking styles can be connected to attention, and attention can be modulated by moods such as anxiety, I investigated how performance pressure and its resulting anxiety affect creative cognition. In the presented studies, participants performed CRAs, AUTs, WM measures, and anxiety measures under high- or low-pressure conditions. Although the pressure manipulation failed, results relating the constructs were found. Multiple regressions of analytic and insight solving of CRAs, WM capacity, and anxiety measures were used to predict the 3 AUT subscores. CRA Insight solving negatively predicted the number of category shifts in AUTs (p=.006), while CRA Analytic solving positively predicted AUT category shifts (p=.04). WMC predicted performance on all three aspects of the AUT, and also analytic CRA solving. Implications will be discussion.
Topic Area: THINKING: Problem solving