The Cognitive–Creative Profiles of Insightful Problem Solvers: A Person-Centered Insight Study

Nirit Salmon-Mordekovich, Mark Leikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to portray insightful problem solvers. Participants solved classic insight problems and rebuses and completed cognitive and creativity tasks. Grouping the participants based on their success in solving insight problems of different modalities revealed that 95% of the spatial problem solvers succeeded in solving verbal ones (spatial verbal solvers) but not vice versa. Verbal problem solvers were not necessarily able to solve spatial ones. A latent class analysis (LCA) based on relationships among the cognitive and creativity variables confirmed these two types of insightful solvers. It portrayed two compatible classes of experts and successful solvers alongside two classes of low-level solvers. The former classes excelled in solving rebuses and verbal problems, yet the experts outperformed the others in spatial problems. Both classes scored higher in spatial divergent thinking measures than the low-level solvers. However, the experts benefited additionally from verbal divergent thinking and associative combination ability. Seemingly, should retrieval of diverse ideas be insufficient to solve the problem, the experts combine ideas by a novel association, thereby generating an insight. Moreover, individual differences in working memory indicated that experts favor associative–automatic strategy, whereas successful solvers utilize analytic strategy. These profiles illuminate “insight” in terms of cognitive and creative styles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-413
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Creative Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. The Journal of Creative Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Creative Education Foundation (CEF).


  • cognitive skills
  • convergent thinking
  • creativity
  • divergent thinking
  • insight problem solving
  • thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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