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Taking a Mental Vacation: A Problem-Solving Method using Metaphor in Creative Incubation Processes

Mike Unrau ()
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Mike Unrau: University of British Columbia, Kelowna, B.C., Canada

No 031MR, Working papers from Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies

Abstract: Mounting pressures on problem-solving teams require creative thinkers to take a “break,†“downtime,†or even a mental “vacation,†in order to regroup before re-tackling the problem. Indeed, creative insight can arise during an unrelated train of thought in what is known as incubation. The greatest benefit of incubation is the ‘aha’ moment that it can produce, when the unconscious releases an idea that is relevant to the original goal of the task at hand. Several theories have been offered as to how incubation produces effective ideas, however, most refer to leaving the problem (at least in part) before returning to it. Further research on unconscious processes suggests that metaphor works in the unconscious, even while conscious attention, or the focused processing of different levels of perception, is directed elsewhere. This paper investigates how a facilitated group incubation process using metaphor to direct conscious attention might generate creative outcome. It then offers a basic directed metaphorical processing method. “Synectics,†devised in the 1960’s by marketing researchers, is given as an example for further investigation.

Keywords: : problem-solving; incubation; metaphor; conscious attention; synectics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-11
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Published in Proceedings of the 15th International RAIS Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities, November 6-7, 2019, pages 237-241

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