Breaking a Mental Block

Posted by Editor Kristi Heidel

The following contains excerpts from Jason Gallate et al., Creative People Use Nonconscious Processes to Their Advantage, 24 Creativity Research Journal (2012). View Study Here.

Sometimes the best way to beat a mental block is to take a break. A break from the problem allows the unconscious to continue solving our problems even though we are not aware of the process. This is known as the incubation effect.

The Incubation Effect
The incubation effect began as a part of an early four-stage theory of creativity from an English psychologist, Graham Wallas. His theory was as follows:

  • Preparation
  • Incubation
  • Illumination/Insight
  • Verification

The incubation phase is a very mysterious phase as it takes place in one’s unconscious.

Using Your Incubation Periods

  • Prepare –It helps to have prepared by looking at the problem from more angles in the beginning
  • Short breaks –Studies have found that 30-minute periods can be more beneficial than 24-hour breaks

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