Insight solutions are correct more often than analytic solutions

Carola Salvi*, Emanuela Bricolo, John Kounios, Edward Bowden, Mark Beeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


How accurate are insights compared to analytical solutions? In four experiments, we investigated how participants' solving strategies influenced their solution accuracies across different types of problems, including one that was linguistic, one that was visual and two that were mixed visual-linguistic. In each experiment, participants' self-judged insight solutions were, on average, more accurate than their analytic ones. We hypothesised that insight solutions have superior accuracy because they emerge into consciousness in an all-or-nothing fashion when the unconscious solving process is complete, whereas analytic solutions can be guesses based on conscious, prematurely terminated, processing. This hypothesis is supported by the finding that participants' analytic solutions included relatively more incorrect responses (i.e., errors of commission) than timeouts (i.e., errors of omission) compared to their insight responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-460
Number of pages18
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Creativity
  • insight
  • problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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