Cognitive abilities involved in insight problem solving: An individual differences model

Colin G. DeYoung, Joseph L. Flanders, Jordan B. Peterson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    81 Scopus citations


    This study investigated individual differences in cognitive abilities that contribute to solving insight problems. A model is proposed describing three types of cognitive ability that contribute independently to insight: convergent thinking, divergent thinking, and breaking frame. The model was tested in a large sample (N = 108) by regressing insight problem solving performance on measures of these three abilities. This analysis demonstrated that all three abilities predicted insight independently. Convergent thinking was further broken down into verbal intelligence and working memory, which also predicted insight independently of each other and of divergent thinking and breaking frame. Finally, when pitted against noninsight problem solving as a predictor in regression, only insight problem solving was uniquely associated with divergent thinking and breaking frame. The model is suggested as a potentially useful taxonomy for the study of ill-defined problems and cognitive abilities.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)278-290
    Number of pages13
    JournalCreativity Research Journal
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 2008

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Preparation of this article was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Jordan Peterson and by a Connaught Fellowship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship to Colin DeYoung. We thank John Vervaeke for inspiring our interest in insight. We thank Rajneesh Sharma, Sarah Bratanek, and Crystal Layne for their assistance with data collection.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Cognitive abilities involved in insight problem solving: An individual differences model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this