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Conscious Cogn. 2006 Mar;15(1):135-46. Epub 2005 Jul 12.

Where creativity resides: the generative power of unconscious thought.

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  • 1Social Psychology Program, University of Amsterdam, Roetersstaat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In three experiments, the relation between different modes of thought and the generation of "creative" and original ideas was investigated. Participants were asked to generate items according to a specific instruction (e.g., generate place names starting with an "A"). They either did so immediately after receiving the instruction, or after a few minutes of conscious thought, or after a few minutes of distraction during which "unconscious thought" was hypothesized to take place. Throughout the experiments, the items participants listed under "unconscious thought" conditions were more original. It was concluded that whereas conscious thought may be focused and convergent, unconscious thought may be more associative and divergent.

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