Mind & Society

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 53-67

First online:

Intuitive and analytical processes in insight problem solving: a psycho-rhetorical approach to the study of reasoning

  • Laura MacchiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca Email author 
  • , Maria BagassiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca

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Language and thought share a unitary cognitive activity, addressed by an interpretative function. This interpretative effort reveals the assonance between the attribution of meaning to an utterance and the discovery of a solution via restructuring in insight problem solving. We suggest a view of complex integrated analytical thinking, which assumes that thinking processes information in different ways, depending on the characteristics of the tasks the subject has to solve, so that reasoning results in a stepwise, rule-based process or in a widespread activity of search where implicit parallel processes are also involved. We investigated the interrelationship between language and thought in insight problem solving, in both its positive (Experiments 1 and 3) and its negative effects (Experiment 2). Our results are discussed in the light of the debate on dual processing theories.


Insight problems Analytical thinking Dual systems Formulation effect Verbalization effect