Applying multiple knowledge structures in creative thought: Effects on idea generation and problem-solving

Samuel T. Hunter, Katrina E. Bedell-Avers, Chase M. Hunsicker, Michael D. Mumford, Gina S. Ligon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Prior studies have indicated that multiple knowledge structures, schema, associations, and cases, are involved in creative thought. Few studies, however, have examined how these different knowledge structures operate together in idea generation and creative problem-solving. Accordingly, in the present study 247 undergraduates were asked to generate ideas relevant to a social innovation problem and then provide a potential solution to the problem. A training manipulation was used to encourage application of schematic, associational, or case-based knowledge either alone or in combination. It was found that prompting use of a single knowledge structure, specifically schema or associational knowledge, resulted in the production of more high quality ideas. However, prompting use of multiple knowledge structures, specifically combining either schema or associations with cases, resulted in the production of higher quality and more original problem-solutions. The implications of these findings for understanding the role of different knowledge structures in creative thought are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-154
Number of pages18
JournalCreativity Research Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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