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Psychol Sci. 2015 Sep;26(9):1461-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797615591863. Epub 2015 Jul 23.

Creativity and Memory: Effects of an Episodic-Specificity Induction on Divergent Thinking.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University Center for Brain Science, Harvard University
School of Psychology, The University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research, The University of Auckland.
Department of Psychology, Harvard University Center for Brain Science, Harvard University.


People produce more episodic details when imagining future events and solving means-end problems after receiving an episodic-specificity induction-brief training in recollecting details of a recent event-than after receiving a control induction not focused on episodic retrieval. Here we show for the first time that an episodic-specificity induction also enhances divergent creative thinking. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited a selective boost on a divergent-thinking task (generating unusual uses of common objects) after a specificity induction compared with a control induction; by contrast, performance following the two inductions was similar on an object association task thought to involve little divergent thinking. In Experiment 2, we replicated the specificity-induction effect on divergent thinking using a different control induction, and also found that participants performed similarly on a convergent-thinking task following the two inductions. These experiments provide novel evidence that episodic memory is involved in divergent creative thinking.


convergent thinking; creativity; divergent thinking; episodic memory; episodic-specificity induction; imagination

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