Similar or dissimilar? Influence of similarity between distraction tasks and target tasks on unconscious thought

Jiansheng Li, Yanlin Guo, Kai Shi, Xuejing Li, Jiarong Xie
Published Online:
15 Apr 2021

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Distraction tasks are known to affect the unconscious‐thought (UT) effect. However, the relationship between two task types, namely distraction and target tasks, and their effect on UT effect have not been examined in previous studies. In this study, we assessed whether simultaneously performing dissimilar distraction and target tasks are beneficial to information processing by UT. In Experiment 1, the target task was an Alternate Use Task (speech task). For the similar‐task test, the UT group was assigned the speech 1‐back task (speech task) as the distraction task; for the dissimilar‐task test, the UT group was assigned the spatial 1‐back task (spatial task) as the distraction task. The results of the experiment revealed that under dissimilar tasks, the UT group not only provided more answers but also provided answers that were more novel. For Experiment 2, the target task was changed to Creative Mental Synthesis Task (spatial task) to replicate the results of Experiment 1. The results demonstrated that the dissimilarity between the distraction and target tasks facilitates the UT.

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