Use or Consequences: Probing the cognitive difference between two measures of divergent thinking

Richard W. Hass, Roger E. Beaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Recent studies have highlighted both similarities and differences between the cognitive processing that underpins memory retrieval and that which underpins creative thinking. To date, studies have focused more heavily on the Alternative Uses task, but fewer studies have investigated the processing underpinning other idea generation tasks. This study examines both Alternative Uses and Consequences idea generation with a methods pulled from cognitive psychology, and a novel method for evaluating the creativity of such responses. Participants were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk using a custom interface allowing for requisite experimental control. Results showed that both Alternative Uses and Consequences generation are well approximated by an exponential cumulative response time model, consistent with studies of memory retrieval. Participants were also slower to generate their first consequence compared with first responses to Alternative Uses, but inter-response time was negatively related to pairwise similarity on both tasks. Finally, the serial order effect is exhibited for both tasks, with Consequences earning more creative evaluations than Uses. The results have implications for burgeoning neuroscience research on creative thinking, and suggestions are made for future areas of inquiry. In addition, the experimental apparatus described provides an equitable way for researchers to obtain good quality cognitive data for divergent thinking tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2327
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - Nov 27 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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