Problem construction and creativity: The role of ability, cue consistency, and active processing

Roni Reiter-Palmon, Michael D. Mumford, Jennifer O.Connor Boes, Mark A. Runco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


Problem construction has been suggested as the first step in creative problem solving, but our understanding of the underlying process is limited. According to a model of problem construction (Mumford, Reiter-Palmon, & Redmond, 1994), problem construction ability, active engagement in problem construction, and the presence of diverse and inconsistent cues influence creative problem solving. To test these hypotheses, 195 undergraduates were asked to solve 6 real-life problems and complete a measure of problem construction ability. Active engagement in problem construction was manipulated by instructions to the participants. Cue consistency was manipulated by the information presented in the problem situation. The quality, originality, and creativity of the solutions were evaluated. Results indicated that problem construction ability was related to higher quality solutions as well as solutions rated as more original. Problem construction ability also interacted with cue consistency such that individuals with high problem construction ability produced solutions of higher quality and originality when faced with inconsistent cues. The implication of these findings to our understanding of creative problem solving and the problem construction process are dis-cussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalCreativity Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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