University of Hertfordshire

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By the same authors

Incubation and suppression processes in creative problem solving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-146
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Journal publication date2 Jan 2015
Early online date12 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


The present study investigated the role of thought suppression in incubation, using a delayed incubation paradigm. A total of 301 participants were tested over five conditions, viz., continuous work control, incubation with a mental rotations interpolated task, focussed suppression, unfocussed suppression and a conscious expression condition. Checks were made for intermittent work during the incubation condition. The target task was alternative uses for a brick. In the incubation and suppression conditions, participants worked for 4 minutes, then had a break during which suppression or the mental rotations interpolated task was carried out for 3 minutes before conscious work was resumed for a further 4 minutes on the alternative uses task. Results indicated that both incubation with an interpolated distractor task and incubation with suppression were effective in enhancing performance relative to controls. The intermittent work hypothesis (that effects of an incubation period are simply due to illicit conscious work on the target task during the incubation period) was not upheld. The effects of incubation/suppression persisted over the post-incubation working period and the results suggested that unfocussed suppression effects on subsequent fluency lasted longer than focussed suppression effects.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in thinking & Reasoning on 12 September 2014, available online at

ID: 8177390