Priming effect is, in a great part, an implicit learning mechanism; it may influence insight problem solving both consciously and unconsciously. The present study investigates interactions between personality traits and priming effects in insight problem solving involving novel object associations in complex situations over time. Based on the findings of past literature, a two-path (conscious vs. unconscious process) model exploring the moderation effects of two personality traits (emotional creativity and Big Five personality traits) were analyzed in this study. One hundred and fifteen college students participated in a randomized block design experiment (non-primed vs. primed) which included three runs of insight problem solving. During the experiment, the participants were exposed to partially direct priming with recognition memory tasks that associated novel objects (associative response priming) and then were challenged by situation-based insight problems; the interaction effects of priming manipulation and personality traits on insight problem solving were analyzed. The results showed that emotional creativity as well as extraversion, openness to experience, neuroticism, and conscientiousness play important moderating roles during the processes of insight problem solving when associative response priming was offered. Overall, the priming effects as well as the moderating effects of these personality traits on insight problem solving grew over time. The findings suggest that insight problem solving, although largely governed by an implicit learning mechanism, involves both conscious and unconscious cognitive processes; moreover, mindfulness, focused attention, persistence, positive emotion, and flexible thinking can be important mechanisms that facilitate insight problem solving in primed situations.


Big Five personality, emotional creativity, implicit learning, priming effect



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