Creativity, Cognition and Material Culture
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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The popular iconography of insight casts a thinker as he or she uncoils from a Rodin pose and a bulb that lights a world hitherto hidden. By and large, these features of folk mythology capture and guide how psychologists conduct research on insight: Mental processes — some of which may be unconscious — transform an inceptive abstract representation of the world until it prescribes a fruitful solution to a problem. Yet thinking and problem solving outside the laboratory involve interacting with external resources, and through this interactivity with a material world, solutions are distilled. Still, laboratory work on problem solving pays scant and largely indifferent attention to interactivity: Sometimes problems are presented as riddles or static graphical or diagrammatic images, or sometimes they are accompanied by artefacts that can be manipulated (and sometimes interactivity is possible for some problems but not others within a set of problems over which performance is indiscriminately amalgamated). The research methodology — and indifference to the central role of interactivity in thinking — follows from a deep-seated commitment to mentalism and methodological individualism. However, a thinker is an embodied creature embedded in a physical world: The materiality of external resources and artefacts through which problems manifest themselves inevitably determines a set of action affordances. From a systemic perspective, thinking is traceable along a contingent spatio-temporal itinerary wrought by interactivity and evidenced by changes in the world.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): affordance; Insight; interactivity; materiality
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