نقش سرکوب افکار در ساخت بلوک های ذهنی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|31736||2008||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||4529 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 17, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 1123–1130
This research examined the role of thought suppression in the formation of mental blocks. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to generate a series of creative associates for two target words after initially suppressing a word that was semantically related to one of the two target words. Participants produced fewer responses, and experienced a greater sensation of being mentally blocked, when attempting to produce associates for the target word that was semantically related to the suppressed word. In Experiment 2, participants either thought about or suppressed a series of words prior to completing a word fragment completion task. Each word either corresponded exactly to one of the word fragment solutions (target primes) or resembled one of the solutions but was slightly different in its orthographic properties (negative primes). Participants performed most poorly on the items for which they had initially suppressed negative primes.
Most of us can think of a time when we felt we had a mental block, a barrier in our minds preventing us from producing desired information. Often this barrier is relevant to the information we are seeking, but it is nonetheless distracting. While trying to think of a creative solution to a problem, for example, we may find ourselves thinking instead of something quite uncreative—an obvious solution that has come to mind before. Or, while trying to retrieve a name or word, we may think of something that sounds similar or has other surface features in common with the target—and find ourselves mentally blocked. The natural inclination when we have such blocks may be to try to suppress the thoughts we feel are blocking our progress. Research on thought suppression reveals, however, that this approach can have the ironic consequence of increasing the cognitive accessibility of the very information we are trying to avoid ( Wegner, 1994a). The present studies explored the idea that the attempt to suppress relevant, distracting information can lead to the formation of a mental block, hindering a person’s success in generating solutions to a problem. Our experiments examined whether instructions to suppress distracting thoughts might paradoxically increase mental blocking by heightening the influence of semantically related distracters (Experiment 1) and orthographically related distracters (Experiment 2). 1.1. Semantically related distracters One common example of a mental block is the “tip of the tongue” or TOT phenomenon (Brown & McNeill, 1966). Such an experience arises when a person cannot retrieve desired information despite the strong feeling of possessing the knowledge (Yaniv & Meyer, 1987). People who experience this type of retrieval failure often report having retrieved several incorrect solutions that were semantically related to the target (Jones, 1988). The specific role of these associated thoughts or interlopers has not been made entirely clear in this literature. Some studies suggest that the related items interfere with the retrieval of the target information (Jones, 1989), while others suggest that they may actually aid retrieval (Meyer & Bock, 1992), and yet others show no influence at all (Perfect & Hanley, 1992). In a separate line of investigation using a different problem-solving task, Smith and Blankenship (1991) found that the presentation of both relevant and irrelevant distracters prior to a problem-solving task hindered people’s ability to solve the subsequent problem. In this study, participants were given a series of problems from Mednick’s (1962) remote associates test. For each item, three target words are presented (e.g., coal, peach, arm) and participants attempt to generate a fourth word closely associated with all three (i.e., pit). The presentation of target-relevant distracters (e.g., for the problem presented above: furnace, pear, leg) resulted in poorer performance compared to when either no distracters or completely irrelevant distracters (e.g., belly, football, election) were presented. Although problem solving was hampered by the presence of distracters in general, the interference was substantially greater for semantically related distracters. 1.2. Orthographically related distracters Distracters need not be semantically related to target information in order to hinder the problem-solving process. Information that is orthographically similar to target information may also impede a person’s ability to solve a problem. Smith and Tindell (1997) tested this by having participants attempt to complete a word fragment completion task (e.g., A_L_ _GY to be completed as ALLERGY) after having been primed with words that were either orthographically similar (e.g., ANALOGY) or dissimilar (e.g., UNICORN) to the correct solution. When participants had been primed with an orthographically similar word (ANALOGY), they were significantly less likely to complete the word fragment (A_L_ _GY) correctly than when they had been primed with a dissimilar word (UNICORN). Prior research has demonstrated that the mere presence of both orthographically and semantically related distracters can impair one’s ability to successfully retrieve desired information. However, in these prior studies, participants’ attention to the distracting information was not controlled or monitored. Rather, only the relevance of the information to the judgment was manipulated—leaving it an open question whether participants were trying to suppress relevant distracters or not. This leaves the mechanism underlying mental blocks unclear. It could be that the manipulation of thought suppression might reveal how mental blocks are formed. 1.3. Ironic effects of thought suppression Research on thought suppression has typically examined what happens when people are instructed to try not to think of something, and has often found that this instruction produces a paradoxical result (Wegner, 1994b). Studies have shown that when people attempt to suppress a thought (e.g., a white bear), the thought may return with greater frequency (Wegner, Schneider, Carter, & White, 1987) and may be more accessible than if they had initially focused upon it (Wegner & Erber, 1992). The suppressed thought can return to influence emotions (Wegner, Broome, & Blumberg, 1997), actions (Wegner, Ansfield, & Pilloff, 1998), memory retrieval (Macrae, Bodenhausen, Milne, & Ford, 1997), and even dreams (Wegner, Wenzlaff, & Kozak, 2004). According to the theory of ironic processes of mental control, these phenomena occur because of the interplay of two processes that are involved in the attempt to control mental states (Wegner, 1994a). One process is a conscious and effortful operating process that searches for thoughts consistent with the intended mental state. The other process is an unconscious and automatic monitoring process that scans for thoughts that are related to the unwanted mental state. For example, if a person is trying to quit smoking, the operating process might focus on thoughts of health, good hygiene, or the financial benefits of saving the money spent on tobacco. Simultaneously, this person’s monitoring process remains on guard for occurrences of the unwanted thoughts of smoking. Thus, when the monitoring process encounters thoughts of smoking, it prompts the renewed activation of the operating process and the person engages in a search for distracting thoughts. However, under conditions of cognitive load, such as mental or physical fatigue or stress, the conscious, and effortful operating process may become compromised, leaving the automatic monitoring process searching for the unwanted thought ( Wegner, 1994a). The increased accessibility of the unwanted thought that results can then bring the thought to mind. For the ex-smoker who is under cognitive load, thoughts of smoking will no longer be replaced by those of health, wealth, and hygiene. The unwanted thoughts of tobacco will become the center of his or her focus. 1.4. The present research When people report having a mental block—in that they are unable to generate an idea they think they should be able to generate—they often report having an “interloper”—a thought that seems to be blocking their ideation. The present research examined whether providing such interlopers and instructing people to suppress them might artificially create “mental blocks.” The goal of Experiment 1 was to ascertain the influence that initially suppressing semantically related distracters would have on people’s ability to generate a list of creative solutions to a problem. Experiment 2 then investigated the effect that suppressing orthographically related information would have on people’s ability to retrieve words in a word-completion task. 2. Experiment 1: Suppression of semantically related information The goal of this study was to ascertain whether a mental block would emerge when participants were instructed to suppress primes that were semantically related to information that participants would later attempt to retrieve. The experiment used a task in which participants were asked to produce a series of word associations in response to a target word. Before this, however, participants were given an initial thought task in which they were instructed to suppress a given word for a 5-min period. After this task, they were asked to perform word association tasks in which they were to list as many creative associates as they could for each of two given target words. The word that was initially suppressed was semantically related to one of the two target words. It was predicted that participants would generate fewer creative associates for the target word that was semantically related to the word they initially suppressed.