Immediate truth - temporal contiguity between a cognitive problem and its solution determines experienced veracity of the solution

Research Area: Research Year: 2010
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: Immediacy; Insight; Problem solving; Processing fluency
Authors: Topolinski, Sascha; Reber, Rolf
A temporal contiguity hypothesis for the experience of veracity is tested which states that a solution candidate to a cognitive problem is more likely to be experienced as correct the faster it succeeds the problem. Experiment 1 varied the onset time of the appearance of proposed solutions to anagrams (50 ms vs. 150 ms) and found for both correct and incorrect candidates that faster appearing solutions were more frequently judged as being correct, although participants were not aware of the difference in onset delay. Experiment 2 replicated this effect with mathematical equations, shorter onset latencies (0 ms vs. 50 ms), and a reversed sequence (presenting first the solution and then the problem). Experiment 3 showed that the probability of judging a word as the solution of a remote associate insight problem decreases linearly with increasing onset delay (50 ms, 150 ms, 300 ms). Possible neurobiological - cognitive explanations for this effect are proposed.
Digital version