W. van Eerde
- The effect of interruptions and breaks on insight and impasses: Do you need a break right now?
- Creativity Research Journal
- Volume | Issue number
- 20 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam Business School Research Institute (ABS-RI)
Some time away from a problem, or incubation time, is found to be beneficial to creative problem solving. But are interruptions as equally helpful as breaks? An experiment was conducted to gain more insight into the differences between imposed and self-initiated breaks, and their effects on creativity, specifically on impasses and insights. There were three experimental conditions, (a) a continuous condition, in which participants were not allowed to switch back and forth between tasks, (b) an interruption condition, in which participants had to switch tasks at a predetermined moment, and (c) a break condition, in which participants could switch tasks at their own discretion. Results showed that taking breaks at moments chosen at one's own discretion led to solving more insight problems and reaching fewer impasses than at moments that were chosen by others. Furthermore, compared to working continuously, interruptions led to fewer impasses, but not to solving more insight problems.
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