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Kounios and Beeman (2009) show that many insight solutions come when one is in a relaxed state. Furthermore, positive mood helps with insight solutions.

  • But practically speaking, is it wise to try and induce conditions that support insight solutions?
  • Would trying to induce conditions that support insight solutions be counterproductive because of some type of meta-cognitive process in the background?

I assume that most people who have eureka moments do not explicitly seek out to have them.

References

  • Kounios, J., & Beeman, M. (2009). The Aha! Moment The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(4), 210-216.
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May be related to your insight question - in this video, the speaker (at 10:20) mentions that the human performance is better across the board when the person is "happier". ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html –  Alex Stone Apr 18 '13 at 2:18
    
Are you referring to any insight inducing conditions or specifically "relaxation"? –  Jeromy Anglim Apr 18 '13 at 4:48
    
It seems like trying too hard (tension) is getting in the way of insight: youtube.com/watch?v=XeJSXfXep4M –  John Doe May 28 at 12:51
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1 Answer

This is all a fairly abstract discussion when it's independent of a particular task.

Insights are by definition those discoveries that you couldn't immediately make. Thus, they are often on the horizon of your understanding. So if you knew more to begin with, the solution may have been obvious. And ultimately solving the problem is typically the goal whether that requires and insight or not.

In general, I would assume that when people are under strong time pressure they may fall back on automated ways of doing a task. Thus, I imagine if you are trying to encourage creativity, to encourage an environment where such alternative ideas can be explored and tried. This may well relate to the issue of relaxation. If people are tense and concerned about their performance being judged immediately, they may be less able to cognitively explore the domain.

More generally, a key part of achieving insight is "incubation". Ultimately, this involves spending time on a problem, then having a break, and returning to a task.

So in summary, If you want to increase insight/creativity, I think it makes sense to do things like spending time on the task, taking breaks, creating a non-judgemental performance environment, getting input from external sources, and so on.

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