An increasing number of studies have explored the process of how subjects solve problems through remote association. Most research has investigated the relationship between an individual’s response to semantic search during the think-aloud operation and the individual’s reply performance. Few studies, however, have examined the process of obtaining objective physiological indices. Eye-tracking technology is a powerful tool with which to dissect the process of problem solving, with tracked fixation indices that reflect an individual’s internal cognitive mechanisms. This study, based on participants’ fixation order for various stimulus words, was the first to introduce the concept of association search span, a concept that can be further divided into distributed association and centralized association. This study recorded 62 participants’ eye movement indices in an eye-tracking experiment. The results showed that participants with higher remote association ability used more distributed associations and fewer centralized associations. The results indicated that the stronger remote association ability a participant has, the more likely that participant is to form associations with different stimulus words. It was also found that flexible thinking plays a vital role in the generation of remote associations.
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