Divergent thinking: strategies and executive involvement in generating novel uses for familiar objects
A protocol analysis study of divergent thinking in an Alternative Uses task was carried out with a think aloud group (N = 40) and a control silent group (N=64). The groups did not differ in fluency or novelty of idea production indicating no verbal overshadowing in this task. Analysis of protocols from the think aloud group suggested that initial responses were based on a strategy of Retrieval from long term memory of pre-known uses. Later responses tended to be based on a small number of other strategies, viz., Property-Based use generation, imagined Disassembly of the target object into components and scanning of Broad Use categories for possible uses of the target item. Novelty of uses was particularly associated with the Disassembly strategy. Experiment 2 (N = 103) examined individual differences in category fluency, letter fluency and divergent thinking. Participants were asked unexpectedly to indicate which of their Alternative Uses task responses were new for them. It was predicted and found in regression analyses that letter fluency was related to production of ‘new’ uses and category fluency to production of ‘old’ uses but not vice versa.