Cracking Psychology: Understanding the appeal of cryptic crosswords #3 – Anagrams

It’s a common experience – you have a blank grid in front of you, 1A isn’t helping, and there’s no obvious way to get going. Maybe you, too, scan the list of clues hoping for an anagram clue or two? In the third part of our ‘explainer’ series, Kathryn Friedlander takes a look at the psychology behind this popular clue form.

Please do give us feedback about our research afterwards by taking this brief survey: we’d really appreciate your help to establish what the impact of our research has been.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Please do give us feedback about our research afterwards by taking the brief survey linked to at the foot of the page.

Continue reading

Let’s Be Creative: What’s new in creativity research?

Philip Fine tells us about a newly published eBook looking at novel ways of researching creativity.


Frontiers

Though creativity has many definitions, it essentially describes behaviours which lead to novel and meaningful products and outcomes. We can observe creativity in all domains of human behaviour, thought and experience, including creative cognition and problem-solving (divergent thinking and insight), artistic performance (music, dance) and creative design and production (art, design, fashion).

Continue reading

The State of the Creative Art: What’s new in creativity research?

Philip Fine tells us about a new collection of articles looking at novel ways of researching creativity.


Frontiers

What is creativity? Why are some people more creative than others? What do we know about the creative process? How do people decide whether one product is more creative than another? 

Continue reading

‘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’?

Continue reading

Are cryptic crosswords really ‘better than sex’?

Kathryn Friedlander explores the ‘kick’ we get from cracking a really good cryptic crossword clue.


A number of stories in the press earlier this year reported work carried out in Vienna and London on solving puzzles in a brain scanner. The study suggested that solving a clue to a puzzle can trigger a highly rewarding ‘Aha!’ (or ‘Eureka!’) insight moment, which releases dopamine into the brain. This is the reward chemical associated with daily activities such as eating, winning money … and having sex. This led to headlines promising that cryptic crosswords were ‘better than sex’… but what’s the reality behind the hype?

Continue reading

Why are psychologists playing games?

Gill Hill explains why investigating creative problem solving is sometimes – quite literally – child’s play.


People might be surprised to hear that the games they played as children can help scientists to explain how people think. For example, researchers have recently used rock, paper scissors as a model for decision making. Furthermore, chess is seen as a pursuit for ‘thinkers’ around the world, and we have consequently seen lots of research exploring psychological processes whilst people play.

Continue reading