The Workload Capacity of Semantic Search in Convergent Thinking

Linlin Shang, Daniel R. Little, Margaret E. Webb, Ami Eidels, Cheng Ta Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The present study used Systems Factorial Technology (Townsend & Nozawa, 1995) to investigate howpeople combine dual cues in semantic memory search. Our aims were (a) to understand how cues interactduring the process of semantic search in convergent thinking and (b) to determine how workloadcapacity (i.e. cue-processing efficiency) is related to search performance. In two experiments, participantscompleted a typical convergent thinking test and a word production task. The results revealedthat: (a) collective evidence supports similar patterns in cue-combination strategy despite individual differencesin workload capacity, and (b) there exists a negative correlation between workload capacityand performance on convergent thinking test. A potential explanation is that, for the creative individual,loading many candidate answers leads to consumption of substantial processing resources that obtainsas low workload capacity but also allows creative individuals to switch more easily from one candidateto another so that there is a higher probability of successfully producing an answer within a limitedtime. Our results further imply that workload capacity is a significant factor for the semantic search processin convergent thinking and provides new insight on the model of semantic search and creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2230-2245
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Convergent thinking
  • Semantic search
  • Systems factorial technology
  • Workload capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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