Processes underlying divergent thinking and problem solving

John C. Houtz, Stuart M. Speedie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A battery of problem-solving and divergent-thinking tasks was administered to 91 5th graders from a middle-class background. The purpose was to attempt identification of a factor that could be labeled "problem solving" and be distinct from divergent-thinking factors. In exploratory factor analyses, principal axis, alpha, and maximum-likelihood factor procedures with orthogonal and oblique rotations were computed. The 3-factor solutions across all factor methods and rotations were consistent. In addition to a major ideational fluency factor and a small school achievement factor, a factor consisting of tasks requiring Ss to analyze given problem conditions and sequence steps to achieve a stated goal was identified. This factor accounted for 20-30% of the total variance and was labeled a problem-solving factor. Results are discussed in terms of possible psychological processes underlying divergent thinking and problem solving. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-854
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1978


  • cognitive processes, problem solving &
  • divergent thinking, 5th graders


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