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Researching & Writing a Scholarly Paper for Law Library Guide: The 'AHA' Experience

This guide combines guidelines for researching and writing scholarly papers, with a specific focus on legal writing.

Gaining Insight Into the "Aha" Experience

This page is based on the following article:

Topolinski, S., & Reber, R. (2010). Gaining Insight Into the "Aha" Experience. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(6), 402-405.

You can access the article at

What is the 'Aha' effect?

The 'Aha' effect occurs when you suddenly realise the solution to a problem you have been dealing with. This is often referred to as gaining insight.

This insight has two characteristics:

  • suddenness - the solution is abrupt and surprising
  • ease - the problem may have been difficult before, but now it is processed fast and easily with the solution

Two more experiences follow this insight:

  • Positive affect - an insight gives a positive affective experience (a feeling of pleasure), not to be confused with pride
  • Truth and confidence - after an insight, problem solvers judge the solution as being true and therefore have full confidence in that solution  

What does the 'Aha' effect do

The "Aha" experience also has a positive effect on processing fluency. This means that information is processed more easily and quickly. This fluency triggers the feeling of pleasure at the solution, and also reinforces the judged truth (irrespective of the actual truth) and subjective confidence of the researcher.

In short, the 'aha' experience gives insight that makes the researcher feel more confident, process information faster and gives an overall feeling of pleasure.