Four experiments investigated transformation problems with insight characteristics. In Experiment 1, performance on a version of the 6-coin problem that had a concrete and visualizable solution followed a hill-climbing heuristic. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the difficulty of a version of the problem that potentially required insight for solution stems from the same hill-climbing heuristic, which creates an implicit conceptual block. Experiment 3 confirmed that the difficulty of the potential insight solution is conceptual, not procedural. Experiment 4 demonstrated the same principles of move selection on the 6-coin problem and the 10-coin (triangle) problem. It is argued that hill-climbing heuristics provide a common framework for understanding transformation and insight problem solving. Post-solution recoding may account for part of the phenomenology of insight.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 30 (1), © 2004 American Psychological Association.