Shedding light on insight: Priming bright ideas

Michael L. Slepian, Max Weisbuch, Abraham M. Rutchick, Leonard S. Newman, Nalini Ambady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Previous research has characterized insight as the product of internal processes, and has thus investigated the cognitive and motivational processes that immediately precede it. In this research, however, we investigate whether insight can be catalyzed by a cultural artifact, an external object imbued with learned meaning. Specifically, we exposed participants to an illuminating lightbulb - an iconic image of insight - prior to or during insight problem-solving. Across four studies, exposing participants to an illuminating lightbulb primed concepts associated with achieving an insight, and enhanced insight problem-solving in three different domains (spatial, verbal, and mathematical), but did not enhance general (non-insight) problem-solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-700
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Creativity
  • Insight
  • Priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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