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Insight Problems

(For more information, contact Gayle Dow, Indiana University)

An insight problem is a problem that requires the examinee to shift his or her perceptive and view the problem in a novel way in order to achieve the solution. There are several types of insight problems.

The three predominant types are verbal, mathematical, and spatial (Dow & Mayer 2003).



Marsha and Marjorie were born on the same day of the same month of the same year to the same mother and the same father yet they are not twins. How is that possible?


There are ten bags, each containing ten gold coins, all of which look identical. In nine of the bags each coin is 16-ounces, but in one of the bags the coins are actually 17-ounces each. How is it possible, in a single weighing on an accurate weighing scale, to determine which bag contains the 17-ounce coins


Draw four continuous straight lines, connecting all the dots without lifting your pencil from the paper.


Insight problems are scores 1 point for correct and 0 for incorrect. On the rare occasion an examinee might create a correct solution that is different from the scoring key (see below, "Other", for complete list of insight problems and solutions), give credit.


Anyone can administer insight problems. For a complete list of insight problems

(full text download available)

Also See

Remotes Associations Task


Dow, G.T. & Mayer, R.E. (2004). Teaching students to solve insight problems. Evidence for domain specificity in training. Creativity Research Journal, 16,4 389-402

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