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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hints and the Aha-Accuracy Effect in Insight Problem Solving


The Aha-Accuracy effect refers to the finding that experiencing an Aha! moment is associated with reaching correct solutions on insight problems. Because this effect has generally been demonstrated with verbal problems, this study tested for this effect on spatial problems (matchstick arithmetic). In addition, this study also explored the effect of hints on the Aha! experience and the Aha-Accuracy effect. Overall, there was no Aha-Accuracy effect in the no-hint control condition. There was an Aha-Accuracy effect in the hint condition, but it was limited to problems with solutions that were not directly cued by the hint. When the hint was directly relevant for solution, then many participants were able to reach a correct solution without an Aha! experience. These findings provide evidence that providing hints may not simply increase the likelihood of reaching a solution, but it may also alter the Aha! experience.

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