Until recently, most empirical research about the creative problem-solving (CPS) process has focused on its divergent thinking aspects, but some broader conceptions of CPS inspired a trilevel matching theory that views CPS tasks as varying in needed thought styles, processing steps, and knowledge domains; views problem solvers as varying in parallel ways, and therefore predicts that different persons, groups, and organizations most effectively and efficiently may solve different kinds of problems. To begin testing these proposed matches, several cognitive traits of 326 students were measured, and these measurements were used to form 102 diverse nominal and interactive groups that solved actual problems facing a small college. All 6 tested hypotheses about matches between problem and solver attributes were confirmed when solution quantity, originality, and utility were measured. As in many other studies, nominal groups performed better than interactive groups when working a single-part task, and the effect sizes were large. Conversely, when working a multipart task, a CPS activity that has been the focus of much less empirical research, the same 51 interactive groups did better than the same 51 nominal groups; and the effect sizes were large. Implications of these new findings for future CPS research and practice are discussed.
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