Does Scope of Attention Affect Creativity? Testing the Attentional Priming Hypothesis

Sisi LIU*, Ming PENG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Creativity is linked to broad scope of attention, a state or trait that allocates attentional resources over a wide range of perceptual stimuli. According to the attentional priming hypothesis, a mechanism underlying the creativity–attention link is that broad perceptual attention scope primes broad conceptual attention scope—the activation of a wide range of memory contents—which therefore facilitates creative ideation. This study aimed to test the hypothesis in three experiments using three manipulations and two creativity tasks. Experiment 1 used the Navon letter task to prime attention to global patterns or local details of composite stimuli and measured creativity via the task to generate alternative uses of daily objects. Experiment 2 modified a cue-size procedure in which participants repeatedly attended to large or small visual cues before a target stimulus appeared. Experiment 3 devised a manipulation that required participants to view and visualize images associated with broad or narrow attention and adopted the alternative uses task and the task to invent alien creatures. Across the experiments, although the results were in the predicted direction, they were non-significant. This study found no evidence that broadness of perceptual attention affects creativity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Creative Behavior
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • breadth of attention
  • creative cognition
  • divergent thinking
  • remote association


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