By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
The work leading up to trial is often hard analytical work -- the kind of gradual and methodological grind in putting the pieces logically together. But sometimes it is creative work -- the kind of work involved in resolving a problem, hatching a strategy, or discovering a theme. That creative part of the work often depends on a moment of insight more than it depends on the hours of hard work. A sudden, fresh, and novel idea can be just what it takes. When I am working on messaging recommendations for a client, following a mock trial for example, sometimes the great idea will happen early, maybe while the mock jurors are still on site. But at other times, I find myself waiting on a truant muse and the idea emerges only much later. In a past post, I've warned about the danger in over-relying on imagination and using it as an excuse to avoid creative work, since the research shows that inspiration can sometimes be a result of perspiration. But one fact about inspiration is that you know it when you feel it. And according to some new research, when you feel it, you should trust it.
A new study in the journal, Thinking and Reasoning (Salvi et al., 2016) has been covered in ScienceDaily and in Scientific American. Entitled, "Insight Solutions Are Correct More Often Than Analytical Solutions," the research reports on several experiments showing that the "aha moments" involving sudden insights lead to correct solutions more often than the "hmm moments" involving gradual and analytical problem solving. The experiments involved puzzles requiring research participants to find a common term linking several other terms (for example, the terms "crab," "pine," and "sauce" are all linked to the term "apple"). After solving the problem under a deadline, participants were asked how they arrived at their answers. Overall, the solutions that emerged as sudden insights were more likely to be correct than the solutions that arrived after careful analytical thought. The research provides an interesting and creative reminder to litigators: Do the hard analytical work because you have to, but trust your sudden insights as well.