Examples of Insight: Gaining Clear Understanding

Updated November 6, 2020
Girl playing video games as examples of insight

Insight is being able to see or understand something clearly. It often includes having an understanding of a cause and effect relationship, namely if you do "A" then "B" will happen.

Insight is sometimes called an epiphany, an "aha" moment or a "eureka' feeling when a solution to a problem presents itself suddenly. Buddhists use meditation to help solve problems using insight knowledge or "vipassana nana."

Understanding Builds Insight

Sometimes the addition of a little information can bring a new perspective to a problem or help you to better understand a person or situation.

For example:

  • Meeting a friend's parents can help you to understand why they do some of the things they do.
  • Watching a pet's actions during the day on a hidden camera will show you how they spend their days while you are away.
  • Watching a repairperson fix a broken appliance may give you ideas about how to fix that appliance if it breaks again.
  • Reading the history of an organization can give a perspective on how they developed their opinions and how they choose their officers and members.
  • Asking someone questions about why they did what they did will help you understand their motivation.

Insight Helps Accomplish Tasks

Insight learning is a form of cognitive learning where animals use insight to accomplish something.

Here are examples:

  • A dog is in a room with a small gate to keep him from leaving. He pushes a box over to the gate in order to stand on it and jump over the gate.
  • People will use a chair in order to get high enough to paint the top of the wall.
  • When moving a chair, you have to move it sideways to make it fit through the door.
  • Sometimes when playing a video game, insight is needed to get to the next step after an obstacle is placed in front of you.
  • Solving a complex math problem uses insight and previous learning of basic skills, like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
  • As an experiment, a chimpanzee was in a cage and a banana was placed out of reach. He used a stick to retrieve the banana.
  • In an experiment, fruit was hung from the ceiling, out of reach of a chimpanzee. Eventually the chimpanzee stacked boxes to climb on and reach the fruit.
  • In this classic example of insight learning, you are given four pieces of chain, each having three links. The task is to join them all together into one big loop. Opening a link costs 2 cents and closing a link costs 3 cents and you only have 15 cents. To solve this, you have to have the insight to break down one piece of chain and use each of the three links to join the other three.

Insight to Solve Rebus Puzzles

In a rebus puzzle, you need to guess a phrase by reviewing a group of pictures and words. For example:

  • you just me - Just between you and me
  • sta4nce - For instance
  • PUNISHMENT - Capital punishment
  • CC C CC - Middle C
  • SYMPHON - Unfinished symphony
  • Little Little Late Late - Too little, too late
  • HOROBOD - Robin Hood

Insight to Solve Problems

An insight problem is simply a problem that requires insight to solve.
Here are examples:

  • Two boys were born on the same day, month and year to the same parents and they are not twins. How can that be? They are triplets.
  • A window washer fell from a 40 foot ladder onto concrete and was not harmed. How is that possible? He fell from the bottom rung.
  • With anagrams, you jumble the letters to make a new word, for example: bedroom to boredom or meteor to remote.
  • It takes insight to get the punch-line of a joke: How do you get down from an elephant? You don't! You get down from a duck.
  • Insight is also needed for puns. Here is a pun from Groucho Marx: "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Now you have seen how insight works and how insight can help you to solve problems.