The role of information search in creative problem solving

Mackenzie Harms, Roni Reiter-Palmon, Douglas C. Derrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study investigates the role that information search behavior plays in the process of creative problem solving. Although models of creative processing posit that information search is a necessary stage of creative problem solving, no research has separated and measured information search from earlier processes to determine the nature of the role it plays in the creative problem solving process. Two hundred twenty-one people participated in a study where active engagement in problem construction was manipulated. Participants were allowed to search for additional information that may facilitate the generation of a creative solution. Measures of information search that have been shown to influence performance on decision-making tasks were captured. The results indicated that the length of time spent searching, the quantity of information viewed, and the breadth of information search mediate the relationship between problem construction engagement and creativity across categories. Furthermore, the relationship between the efficiency of information search and creativity depends upon problem construction engagement. For people who engaged in problem construction, the more efficiently they searched for information, the more creative their solution. The efficiency of information search had no impact on creativity for people who did not engage in information search. The implications of these findings as they relate to the overall field of creative problem-solving are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-380
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Cognition
  • Creativity
  • Information search
  • Problem construction
  • Problem-solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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