DIVERGENT PROBLEM SOLUTIONS, PROBLEM-UNRELATED THOUGHTS AND SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISTRACTION IN EVERYDAY SITUATIONS
On the basis of the author's experimental results it was hypothesised that 'loose' solutions to a divergent problem, i.e. solutions that transgress the indicated category of means of reaching the goal set in the problem, are related to a tendency to process relatively deeply aspects of information that are irrelevant to the task at hand or to block relatively late such task-unrelated mental activity. The aim of the study was to find out whether this tendency implies an increased susceptibility to distraction in everyday situations and increased frequency of occurrence of task-unrelated thoughts during problem solving. Participants solved one or two divergent problems and completed a questionnaire designed to assess susceptibility to distraction. Moreover, some participants made estimates of relative frequencies of thoughts that appeared during the problem-solving interval but concerned some other matters.The estimated frequencies of problem-unrelated thoughts were positively correlated with the questionnaire score indicating susceptibility to distraction and they were lower in subjects who did not write any loose solution ideas than in subjects who wrote one or more such solutions. No relationship was found between the questionnaire score and loose solution ideas. The results support the hypothesis that loose solution ideas may be an index of attentional functioning which allows relatively deep processing of activated mental contents unrelated to the current task. However, the results did not confirm that this way of functioning of attention is associated with an increased susceptibility to distraction in everyday situations.
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