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The Unconscious Tug-of-War: Exploring the Effect of Stimulus Selection Bias on Creative Problem Solving with Multiple Unconscious Stimuli.

OBJECTIVE: This study innovatively investigated the potential selection bias involved in processing multiple subliminal stimuli during creative problem-solving (CPS). It addresses the existing gap in specialized research on how the handling of multiple unconscious stimuli influences higher-order cognitive processes, particularly creativity.

METHODS: The study utilized a masked priming paradigm and a remote association task (RAT). Two experiments were conducted. Experiment 1 presented two stimuli simultaneously, with one being the correct answer, to examine whether there was a bias in the location of subliminal stimuli. In Experiment 2, two stimuli were presented sequentially, with one serving as the answer, to investigate whether there was a temporal bias in unconscious processing.

RESULTS: Our findings revealed that when solving easy RATs, subliminal stimuli presented on the left side had a negative priming effect compared to the right side. The results revealed that unconscious processing of subliminal stimuli enhanced performance on difficult CPS. Additionally, a temporal bias was observed, with more recent subliminal stimuli having a stronger effect than earlier stimuli.

CONCLUSION: Unconscious processing can improve CPS, especially for difficult tasks, and there is a bias towards processing stimuli on the left and more recently presented stimuli. These findings contribute to our understanding of unconscious processing, particularly the processing of multiple subliminal stimuli in CPS, and provide insights into the biases that exist in unconscious processing.

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