Cracking Psychology: Understanding the appeal of cryptic crosswords #2 – Rebus-type clues (‘Say what you see’)

In this second part of a series unpacking the psychology behind cryptic crossword solving, Kathryn Friedlander explores the connection between cryptic clues and the ‘rebus’ or ‘word-picture’ puzzle form.

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Cracking Psychology: Understanding the appeal of cryptic crosswords #1 – Puns and misdirection

Nearly all of us enjoy a good joke now and again, but those who do cryptic crosswords seem particularly attracted to verbal humour. In the first of a series unpacking the psychology behind cryptic crossword solving, Kathryn Friedlander explores the many links between puns, verbal ambiguity, misdirection and the solving of cryptic crossword clues.

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Thinking flexibly is key to cryptic crossword solving

When it comes to thinking about cryptic crossword solvers, what kind of image springs to mind? Maybe Chief Inspector Morse, a vicar, or a bowler-hatted Civil Servant? But would you be right…? Kathryn Friedlander shares new research lifting the lid on the mind of the cryptic solver – and finds that they are an academically able group, tending towards science, with fantastically flexible problem-solving abilities.

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‘Rewording the Brain’ – Can cryptic crosswords fight off dementia?

Kathryn Friedlander reviews David Astle’s fascinating guide to cryptic crosswords. Should we all consider taking up cryptic crossword solving, as the book suggests, to ‘improve our memory and boost the power and agility of our brain’?

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What makes an expert cryptic crossword solver?

Study reveals what it takes to become a cryptic crossword expert – and it’s more than just practice

You may have heard of the “10,000-hour rule”, the belief that it takes thousands of hours of intense practice to become an expert in something. Training and practice are clearly vitally important in many highly competitive areas such as sports, music and chess. But is that really all it takes to achieve greatness?

Recent research suggests that other factors such as genetics influence the likelihood that you will try, enjoy and excel at a performance activity. We decided to test that theory in the highly challenging arena of cryptic crossword solving. Continue reading

What’s it all about?

Ever wondered why some people are better at playing the violin than others?  Mystified by those who knock off the Times cryptic crossword in only 5 minutes? Curious as to why some people pursue niche hobbies – like campanology, mycology or button-collecting?

Want to know what makes people creative (or not), and how creative thinking might be enhanced? So do we!

Based at the University of Buckingham, our CREATE research hub is dedicated to probing these questions, and more. Together with our guest bloggers and collaborators from other Universities, we’ll be sharing our thoughts and discoveries along the way.

Want to get in touch or write something for us? Leave a comment below, or check out our About page to find out more. Or contact us here.