Implications of counterfactual structure for creative generation and analytical problem solving.

Personality and social psychology bulletin

PubMedID: 17312314

Markman KD, Lindberg MJ, Kray LJ, Galinsky AD. Implications of counterfactual structure for creative generation and analytical problem solving. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007;33(3):312-24.
In the present research, the authors hypothesized that additive counterfactual thinking mind-sets, activated by adding new antecedent elements to reconstruct reality, promote an expansive processing style that broadens conceptual attention and facilitates performance on creative generation tasks, whereas subtractive counter-factual thinking mind-sets, activated by removing antecedent elements to reconstruct reality, promote a relational processing style that enhances tendencies to consider relationships and associations and facilitates performance on analytical problem-solving tasks. A reanalysis of a published data set suggested that the counterfactual mind-set primes previously used in the literature tend to evoke subtractive counterfactuals. Studies 1 and 2 then demonstrated that subtractive counterfactual mind-sets enhanced performance on analytical problem-solving tasks relative to additive counterfactual mind-sets, whereas Studies 3 and 4 found that additive counterfactual mind-sets enhanced performance on creative generation tasks relative to subtractive counterfactual mind-sets.