Here’s an association or riddle game that Mika and I created last night that I found interesting.
- Give a player a list of three random, dissimilar objects (e.g., pancakes, manhole covers, and condominiums). Tell them that you are thinking of some quality or feature shared by all three and ask them to tell you what it might be.
- After letting them think for some time, or even after supplying answers, tell the player that you lied and that you didn’t have an answer in mind. In fact, the goal of the game is to come up with any and all associations.
Most people I’ve talked feel that the problem becomes easier after one realizes that there isn’t a correct answer. Of course, the strategy that the second stage invites (thinking of anything without the idea that the answer might be right or wrong) is exactly what the player should have been doing from the beginning. Why don’t we? In what situations might we be more creative problem solvers if we pretended that there isn’t a correct answer?