Do We Need Inhibitory Control to Be Creative? Evidence From a Dual-Task Paradigm

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The ability to inhibit common and dominant paths of solutions to a problem seems to be a critical process for generating creative ideas. However, previous behavioral studies have not systematically supported a positive relation between creativity and inhibitory control. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to determine the potential role of inhibitory control in creative idea generation. In Experiment 1, we used a dual-task paradigm to reduce participants’ inhibitory control resources while performing a creative task. Participants were asked to propose as many creative solutions as possible to prevent a hen’s egg from breaking when dropped from a height of 10 m under either interference or control conditions of a computerized version of the Color Word Stroop task. We found that inhibitory control load decreased creative capabilities in terms of fluidity and expansivity. To determine whether creative idea generation depends specifically on the ability to inhibit fixation effects, dual-task costs under a secondary working memory (WM) task were examined in a second experiment. The results revealed that WM load had no significant effect on creative ideation. Combined, these results confirmed that inhibitory control is a core process to overcoming fixation effects and generating original solutions in a creative task.

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