Creative thought is conventionally believed to involve searching memory and generating multiple independent candidate ideas followed by selection and refinement of the most promising. Honing theory, which grew out of the quantum approach to describing how concepts interact, posits that what appears to be discrete, separate ideas are actually different projections of the same underlying mental representation, which can be described as a superposition state, and which may take different outward forms when reflected upon from different perspectives. As creative thought proceeds, this representation loses potentiality to be viewed from different perspectives and manifest as different outcomes. Honing theory yields different predictions from conventional theories about the mental representation of an idea midway through the creative process. These predictions were pitted against one another in two studies: one closed-ended and one open-ended. In the first study, participants were interrupted midway through solving an analogy problem and wrote down what they were thinking in terms of a solution. In the second, participants were instructed to create a painting that expressed their true essence and describe how they conceived of the painting. For both studies, naïve judges categorized these responses as supportive of either the conventional view or the honing theory view. The results of both studies were significantly more consistent with the predictions of honing theory. Some implications for creative cognition, and cognition in general, are discussed.
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We thank Brian O'Connor for comments, and Apara Ranjan and Conner Gibbs for assistance with the manuscript. This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (grant number 62R06523 ). Appendix A
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