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Chapter 11 Problem Solving and Creativity Four aspects of problem solving Understanding the problem Problem solving strategies

Factors that influence problem solving Creativity Introduction Problem solving: the way one comes to a solution and reaches a certain goal Three components Initial state: describes the situation at the beginning of the problem Goal state: reached when you solve the problem Obstacles: describe the restrictions that make it difficult to proceed from Thinking: requires you to go beyond the information you were given so that you Understanding the problem Understanding: the construction of a mental representation of the problem, based Paying attention to important information To understand a problem, you need to decide which information is most Attention: limited, competing thoughts can produce divided attention; Methods of representing the problem Symbols: representation of an abstract problem Disadvantages Problem solvers often make mistakes Problem solvers may oversimplify the sentence when Matrices: charts that show all possible combinations of items Advantages Good way to keep track of items, particularly if the problem is complex and if the relevant information is Suitable when the information is stable rather than Diagrams: useful when you want to represent a large amount of Hierarchical tree diagram: a figure that uses a tree-like structure to Graph: a figure that represents visual information during problem Advantages Can represent complicated information in a clear, concrete Attracts people’s eye movements to relevant areas of the Visual images: allows people to escape the boundaries of traditional, Advantages Good when a problem requires you to construct a figure Situated cognition: an approach that examines how the ability to solve a problem Abstract intelligence tests or aptitude tests often fail to reveal how Implications for education Suggests that children should have experience in solving authentic Suggests that college students can learn especially effectively People learn skills within the context of a specific situation. As a Advantages Consistent with the idea that psychologists should emphasize Section Summary: Understanding the Problem


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1. When you engage in problem solving, you begin with the initial state 2. To understand a problem, you need to create an accurate mental 3. Attention is relevant in problem solving because attention is limited, 4. Methods for representing problems include symbols, matrices, 5. According to the situated-cognition approach, we must emphasize the Problem-Solving Strategies Once you have represented the problem, you can use many different strategies to Algorithm: a method that will always produce a solution to the problem, although Often insufficient and unsophisticated Most everyday problems cannot be solved with algorithms Heuristic: a general rule that is usually correct; a strategy in which you ignore Do not guarantee a correct solution People are more likely to use heuristics than algorithms Analogy Approach: employ a solution to a similar, earlier problem to help The Structure of the Analogy Approach The major challenge for people who use the analogy Problem isomorphs: set a problems that have the same Disadvantages People pay more attention to the surface features People may fail to emphasize the structural features People often fail to see the analogy between a People with limited problem-solving skills and Factors Encouraging Appropriate Use of Analogies People are likely to use the analogy strategy correctly when: Someone gives them a hint to compare the two They try several structurally similar problems before they tackle the target problem They are encouraged to emphasize structural The Means-Ends Heuristic: a person first divides the problem into a Requires you to identify the “ends” you want and then figure out When you use the means-ends heuristic, you can proceed in either Research on the Means-Ends Heuristic People do organize problems in terms of subproblems People are more reluctant to move away from the goal state, even if the correct solution depends on making this Greeno (1974) Examined how people solve the Hobbits-and-Orcs Computer Simulation When researchers use computer simulation, they The program should make some false starts and Newell & Simon (1972) Developed a now-classic computer Contemporary cognitive scientists also The Hill-Climbing Heuristic: a strategy of choosing, at each choice point, Simply select the alternative that seems to lead most directly Can be useful when you do not have enough information about

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Major point: this heuristic encourages short-term goals rather than Drawbacks Can lead you astray Problem solvers must consistently choose the alternative Individual Differences: Cross-Cultural Comparisons in Problem-Solving This chapter examines the relationship between culture and Guss & Wiley (2007) Located 326 university students in the United States, Brazil, and India. Most students were in their early 20s. Asked the People may not have accurate insights into their cognitive Section Summary: Problem-Solving Strategies 1. With algorithms, such as exhaustive search, the problem solver 2. One important heuristic is the analogy approach, in which people solve 3. The means-ends heuristic requires dividing a problem into subproblems 4. One of the simplest problem-solving strategies is the hill-climbing 5. University students from the United States, Brazil, and India report Factors That Influence Problem Solving Bottom-Up Processing: emphasizes the information about the stimulus, as Top-Down Processing: emphasizes our concepts, expectations, and memory, Effective problem solving requires an ideal blend of both top-down processing Expertise: consistently exceptional performance on representative tasks in a Experts have top-down processes that allow them to perform well on many different components of problem solving in their area of expertise Experts excel primarily in their own domain of expertise Differences between expertise and novices Knowledge base (Schemas) You need the appropriate schemas in order to understand a Memory The memory skills of experts tend to be very specific Problem-Solving Strategies When experts encounter a novel problem in their area of Speed and Accuracy Experts are much faster than novices. Experts solve Metacognitive Skills Experts are better than novices at monitoring their problemMental Set: a mental rut or mindless rigidity that blocks effective problem solving Mental set and functional fixedness (discussed a little further) both Mental set is related to a concept called “fixed mindset” Fixed mindset: the belief that one has a certain amount of Growth mindset: the belief that one can cultivate intelligence and Luchin (1942) Water-jar problem Gave one group of participants a series of complex problems. Functional Fixedness: the functions or uses we assign to an object tend to remain Occurs when our top-down processing is overactive (like mental set) Duncker (1945)


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Candle problem Presented participants with a table. On the table, there were three The matchbox can be used for holding the candle. Tack the empty Functional fixedness can also be demonstrated in cultures with little Stereotypes and Problem Solving Our top-down processing may be overactive because our stereotypes can Gender stereotypes: organized, widely shared sets of beliefs about the The Nature of Stereotype Threat Stereotype threat: if you belong to a group that is hampered by a Research with Asian American Females Shih and her coauthors (1999) All participants were Asian American women In North America, one stereotype is “Asians are good at Researchers divided the Asian American women into three Ethnicity-emphasis: asked to indicate ethnicity and Control-group: did not answer any questions Gender-emphasis: asked to indicate their gender and answer questions about that gender. Then Results showed that when Asian American women are Research with European American Females O’Brien & Crandall (2003) Studied a group of college women taking a difficult math Johns and his coauthors (2005) Gave one group of students a brief description of stereotype threat. The description pointed out that any anxiety they might feel could be the results of these negative Potential Explanation Stereotype threat probably produces arousal High arousal is likely to interfere with working memory Females who are taking a difficult math test may work hard to Thought suppression requires great effort, which reduces Insight Versus Noninsight Problems Insight problem: a problem that initially seems impossible to solve, but a Noninsight problem: a problem that is solved gradually, using memory, The Nature of Insight Very important to gestalt psychologists Gestalt psychologists emphasized organizational Behaviorists rejected the idea of insight The idea of a sudden cognitive-reorganization was not Currently Some psychologists favor the concept of insight while In favor of the concept of insight People who are working on an insight problem usually hold some inappropriate assumptions when they begin to solve the problem In some cases, the best way to solve insight problems is to

Incubation: a situation in which you are initially The well-controlled laboratory research Not in favor of the concept of insight Top-down processing may prevent you from solving an Metacognition During Problem Solving Metcalfe (1986) Argues that the pattern of your metacognitions differs for People’s confidence builds gradually for problems that do Presented participants with insight problems. Every ten Section Summary: Factors That Influence Problem Solving 1. Experts differ from novices with respect to their knowledge base, 2. Problem solving can be influenced by your mental set (in which you 3. Stereotype threat can occur when people belong to a group that is 4. The research shows that stereotype threat is associated with Asian 5. Insight problems are solved when the answer appears suddenly; 6. Research on metacognition shows that your confidence builds gradually for noninsight problems; in contrast, your confidence on insight problems is initially low, but it suddenly increases when you solve the problem. Creativity A type of problem-solving; requires moving from an initial state to a goal state Definitions Most theorists agree that novelty or originality is a necessary component to a solution Solution must be useful and appropriate Creativity requires finding solutions that are novel, high quality, and Although many theorists agree on the basic definition of creativity, their Some psychologists argue that creativity is based on ordinary Approaches to Creativity Guilford (1967) Divergent production Proposed that creativity should be measured in terms of divergent To earn a high score, the problem solver mush explore in many Found moderate correlations between people’s test scores and Investment Theory of Creativity Sternberg and his colleagues propose that people produce a Sternberg & Lubart Investment theory of creativity: the essential attributes are Task Motivation and Creativity Intrinsic motivation: the motivation to work on a task for its own sake, Extrinsic motivation: the motivation to work on a task, not because you The Relationship Between Intrinsic Motivation and Creativity Research demonstrates that people are likely to be most creative The Relationship Between Extrinsic Motivation and Creativity Many studies have demonstrated that students tend to produce less Section Summary: Creativity

1. Numerous definitions have been proposed for creativity; one common 2. Two approaches to creativity include: (a) Guilford’s measurements of 3. Research suggests that intrinsic motivation promotes high levels of