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Dress, dial, flower

The poorly named, but well-acronymed, “compound remote associate problem” tests were coined by some dude in the 60s. They were sets of three words that have some fourth word in common, like:




They flashed on the screen for 2 seconds, 7 seconds, or 15 seconds, unless you could hit the space bar and say “bag” before time ran out.

These problems are interesting because they aren’t that difficult, and yet the optimal play strategy is to get your mind into a loosey goosey state, where it’s open to insight and creativity. To go about it rigidly and in an analytical manner will almost always take longer than 2 seconds, and often times longer than 15 seconds, but the subconscious, when primed and ready, can be a lot quicker than that.

Looking around the Internet, I found a few old articles in Google’s cache (because the originals have long since fallen off the web for some reason), that have hundreds of these three-word sets with their answers and results from various studies on how long each set took to complete on average.




I really like sets of words like this. They capture the creative spirit to me, and are like little bits of enjoyment candy since the brain loves finding loose connections.

If I have some free couple hours in the next week, I’ll think about creating a tiny website to host all of these tests for people to take, timing their answers, etc.

It’s a good way to start the day, by loosening up the mind.




6 Responses to “Dress, dial, flower”

  1. neat! i love these! except the last one, i didn’t get it! hmm, too far down the rabbit hole!

  2. Oh the last one is the best one. But I forgot it and had to rethink it… and it was difficult.

  3. If you do create a mini-site for this, I’d love to know when you have it up and running. I dig this kind of stuff. Cheers!

    (Still trying to figure out the last one, too.)

  4. [...] account a set of three words that hint at a fourth word (described in the post from a few days ago, Dress, dial, flower).  In the case of “dress, dial, flower” you would dm me [...]

  5. huh. surprised that the last one is hard. today’s (friend, scout, flower) seems tricker because the link isn’t always in the same spot.

  6. It’s apparently “sun” God knows why

    What about: