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Capturing 'Aha!' moments of puzzle problems using pupillary responses and blinks

Wong, Tsunhin John (2009) Capturing 'Aha!' moments of puzzle problems using pupillary responses and blinks. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Inspired by the design of Metcalfe and Wiebe (1987), this study is a quest for more fine-grained measures of the differences between insight problem solving and non-insight problem solving at the moment of an 'Aha!'. We avoided asking for metacognitive reports that have been shown to disturb insight problem solving (Schooler, Olsson, & Brooks, 1993), and made use of routine (non-insight) problems of a very similar task nature to compare with the performance, eye-related physiological measures, and subjective ratings of participants on their solving of puzzle (insight) problems. We found that puzzle problems and routine problems led to different pupillary dilations with perception of the tasks and mood as possible mediators of the effect. Profiles of pupillary responses and blinks are found to be indicators that depict characteristics of the task nature when a person is unable to predict his/her own problem solving performance on an insight problem. We also found that discontinuity and restructuring are possibly more important in characterizing an insight problem solving event. Third, instead of the traditional sharp and abrupt but indistinct characterization of the insight moment, our data suggested that an insight is possibly an emerging moment of a sense of clarity about the solution which takes time before the time of an 'Aha!' solution declaration, which converges with some of the claims made according to records of historical scientific discoveries (Gruber, 1995).


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wong, Tsunhin
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchunn, Christian Dschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN
Committee MemberSiegle, Greg Jgsiegle@pitt.eduGSIEGLE
Committee MemberNokes, Timothy Jnokes@pitt.eduNOKES
Date: 30 September 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 July 2009
Approval Date: 30 September 2009
Submission Date: 5 August 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aha; Blink; Cognition; Eureka; Experimental study; Eye movement; Human; Insight; Insight; Physiology; Problem solving; Pupil; Pupillary responses
Other ID:, etd-08052009-121242
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:57
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:48


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