Skimming the surface: Verbal overshadowing of analogical retrieval

TitleSkimming the surface: Verbal overshadowing of analogical retrieval
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLane S.M., Schooler J.W.
JournalPsychological Science
Date Published10/14/2004

It has become almost a maxim that "talking through" a problem is advantageous. Contrary to this wisdom, studies from numerous domains have demonstrated that describing one’s thought processes or analyzing a judgment may, in some circumstances, actually impair performance. The two experiments reported here built upon prior work by examining the effect of verbalization on the retrieval of analogies. Participants read a series of 16 short stories. Later, they were presented with 8 test stories and indicated whether these stories were analogies of the stories they had read previously. Each test story shared the same deep structure with one prior story and only surface characteristics with another prior story. Half of the participants completed the test while thinking aloud, and half did not think aloud. In both experiments, participants who thought aloud were more likely to retrieve surface matches and less likely to retrieve true analogies than participants who did not verbalize their thoughts during the test.