Event Title

Problem Solving During Peak and Non-Peak Circadian Arousal

Poster Number

38

Presenter Information

Erin Rhoads, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Donna Nelson, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Location

Richardson Ballroom

Start Date

24-4-2015 3:20 PM

End Date

24-4-2015 4:50 PM

Description

The aim of our project was to examine variables that inhibit or augment creative thinking about personal social problems. Prior research indicates that types of information processing strategies adopted by people vary as a function of circadian arousal levels and mental fatigue. Non-peak circadian arousal seems to prompt a closed-minded, inflexible approach to information processing (Webster, Richter, & Kruglanski, 1996). This may translate into less flexible and creative thinking about solutions to social problems. Our study focused on the effect of circadian arousal on functionality of solutions to adults’ personal problems. Participants were randomly assigned to complete the experiment in the early morning (7-9 AM), late afternoon (4-6 PM), or at night (9-11 PM). Participants completed the Horne-Osberg (1976) Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire. Participants were then instructed to describe a personal social problem and generate as many different solutions as possible. Our findings indicate that synchrony of testing time and trait-like circadian arousal patterns influences efficacy of social problem solving. Morning types generated more functional solutions when tested in the morning compared to the late afternoon and night. Evening types generated fewer functional solutions when tested in the morning compared to the late afternoon or night. Operating under non-peak circadian arousal can interfere with generating functional solutions to social problems. A better understanding of the effects of peak and non-peak circadian arousal levels on creative problem solving may be useful for improving functioning in work, academic, and interpersonal contexts.

Comments

Presented at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, March 2015

Winner, Psi Chi Regional Research Award, SEPA, March 2015

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Apr 24th, 3:20 PM Apr 24th, 4:50 PM

Problem Solving During Peak and Non-Peak Circadian Arousal

Richardson Ballroom

The aim of our project was to examine variables that inhibit or augment creative thinking about personal social problems. Prior research indicates that types of information processing strategies adopted by people vary as a function of circadian arousal levels and mental fatigue. Non-peak circadian arousal seems to prompt a closed-minded, inflexible approach to information processing (Webster, Richter, & Kruglanski, 1996). This may translate into less flexible and creative thinking about solutions to social problems. Our study focused on the effect of circadian arousal on functionality of solutions to adults’ personal problems. Participants were randomly assigned to complete the experiment in the early morning (7-9 AM), late afternoon (4-6 PM), or at night (9-11 PM). Participants completed the Horne-Osberg (1976) Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire. Participants were then instructed to describe a personal social problem and generate as many different solutions as possible. Our findings indicate that synchrony of testing time and trait-like circadian arousal patterns influences efficacy of social problem solving. Morning types generated more functional solutions when tested in the morning compared to the late afternoon and night. Evening types generated fewer functional solutions when tested in the morning compared to the late afternoon or night. Operating under non-peak circadian arousal can interfere with generating functional solutions to social problems. A better understanding of the effects of peak and non-peak circadian arousal levels on creative problem solving may be useful for improving functioning in work, academic, and interpersonal contexts.