Spontaneous and Voluntary Analogical Retrieval During Problem-Solving and Hypothesis Generation

AbstractTheoretical models of analogical retrieval implicitly assume that the cognitive system continuously scans long-term memory based on the contents of working memory (WM). Experiment 1 revealed that when a target analog is presented in the context of a problem-solving activity, a prompt to search for analogous situations adds nothing over-and-above the probabilities of being spontaneously reminded of an analogous problem. More exploratory in nature, Experiment 2 presents the first experimental evidence of analogical retrieval during hypothesis generation. Our prompt to search for analogous phenomena increased access to distant analogs, suggesting that hypothesis-generation does not reliably elicit a search for analogous phenomena. Results suggest that a search for analogous cases is not automatically triggered by the contents of WM, and that the nature of the tasks in which the analogs are embedded determines whether a search for analogs will be initiated.

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