Do people really have insights in the shower? The when, where and who of the Aha! moment

Linda Ovington, Anthony Saliba, Carmen Moran, Jeremy Goldring, Jasmine MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


While there are well-known anecdotes and documented insight cases by renowned scientists and inventors, little is known about the experiences of insight in the general population. The present study aimed to determine peoples' self-reported experience of insight in their daily lives. Using an online questionnaire, responses were obtained from 1,114 respondents. Eighty-percent reported having insights. These respondents reported demographic information and answered three open-ended questions on where their insights occur, what insights are and other thoughts on insight. A greater percentage of those who have insights are, female, younger, highly educated, and involved in occupations including, management, sciences, arts and service professions. The qualitative results uncovered eight major themes, reflecting on the places people have insights: At night, work, shower, home, when it is quiet, transport, while exercising, and in nature.Two major themes emerged on what insights are: Something from the subconscious, and a result of (not) thinking. Finally, three major themes emerged from the third question on thoughts they would like to share on insight: The improvement of insight with age, the importance of analyzing the details of the problem, and the unexpectedness of thesolution. Results are discussed in the context of the current experimental research on insight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages18
JournalThe Journal of Creative Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


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