This study investigates the relation between task succes, working memory and creativity in novice participants. A modified boxing glove reduced the effectiveness of left-handed strikes. Yet, they were to hit a target at the left side of a boxing bag with criterion impact. Task success depended on search behaviours and creativity, but not on working memory.

Creative solutions to problems can be facilitated by guiding search behavior. In cognitive tasks, when solving convergent tasks with few solutions, high available working memory (WM) resources guide creative solutions via repeated (persistent) search within a solution subcategory. This study tested whether WM resources affect search behavior and creative outcomes in a convergent motor task. Novices to combat sports repeatedly struck a target with the intent to achieve a target force. To manipulate available WM resources, every ten strikes, participants were asked to recall and then retain a sequence of 5 digits (high load group) or 2 digits (low load group).

Participant with modified glove on the left hand striking the target at the left side of a boxing bag

The task constraints favored the functionality (or appropriateness) of a qualitatively distinct, non-obvious solution. Functionality was assessed using the force registered for each strike. Originality was assessed in terms of how infrequently actions occurred. Finally, search behavior was quantified based on changes in which limb was used and changes in which part of the limb was used from one strike to the next. There were no significant effects of WM load on creativity outcomes, solution search, or task success. Rather, task success was related to efficient search and creativity.

Orth, D., McDonic, L., Ashbrook, C., & van der Kamp, J. (2019). Efficient search under constraints and not working memory resources supports creative action emergence in a convergent motor task. Human Movement Science, 67, 102505 [full text]