Executive functions in insight versus non-insight problem solving: An individual differences approach

K. J. Gilhooly, E. Fioratou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    87 Citations (Scopus)


    This study investigated the roles of the executive functions of inhibition and switching, and of verbal and visuo-spatial working memory capacities, in insight and non-insight tasks. A total of 18 insight tasks, 10 non-insight tasks, and measures of individual differences in working memory capacities, switching, and inhibition were administered to 120 participants. Performance on insight problems was not linked with executive functions of inhibition or switching but was linked positively to measures of verbal and visuo-spatial working memory capacities. Non-insight task performance was positively linked to the executive function of switching (but not to inhibition) and to verbal and visuo-spatial working memory capacities. These patterns regarding executive functions were maintained when the insight and non-insight composites were split into verbal and spatial insight and non-insight composite scores. The results are discussed in relation to dual processing accounts of thinking.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)355-376
    Number of pages22
    JournalThinking & Reasoning
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • TASKS
    • Problem solving
    • Insight
    • Executive functions

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