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Chapter 12 Problem Solving

6 Pages

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PSYC 221
Thomas Spalek

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Nov 23, 2011 Chapter 12 Problem Solving 1 Thinking – formation of a new mental representation, created through transformation of info you may already have by complex interaction of mental attributes of judging, abstracting, reasoning, imagination, and problem solving Problem solving – thinking directed toward handling a certain situation involving the formation of responses AND the selection among possible responses What is a problem? • There is an initial state • There is a goal state differing from the initial state • And then the process of going from the initial to the goal state isn’t completely obvious Four Features of Problems • GOAL – description of what constitutes a solution • Description of OBJECTS relevant to achieving a solution • A set of OPERATIONS toward the solution • A set of CONSTRAINTS not to be violated Types of Problems 1. Knowledge-lean problems – solved, though not always skilfully, by using instructions for the task and general problem solving skills (e.g., finding a parking space) 2. Knowledge-rich problems – requires specific knowledge/skill to solve the problem (e.g., calculus) 3. Well-defined – problems with clear-cut solutions; solved using algorithms (e.g., crosswords) 4. Ill-defined – problem with multiple possible solutions; can’t be solved with an algorithm (e.g., building a career) Herb Simon • Studied protocols of subjects talking during problem solving Problem Solving Process Form initial problem representation  try to plan potential solution (If fail and can’t formulate solution  try to reformulate problem) If you succeed  execute plan and check results (If the solution fails  take break and retry) Solution succeeds  DONE Aspects of Problem Solving Problem space – domain of the problem and the choices the solver evaluates during solution Nov 23, 2011 Chapter 12 Problem Solving 2 Plan – hierarchical process that controls the order in which a sequence of operations is to be performed [Representation] Mutilated Checkerboard Problem • Wickelgren (1974) General Methods • Generate-test method (“trial and error”) ○ Takes too long ○ Working memory is too limited to work through the whole problem for each of the many possible solutions generated ○ E.g., fruit with a vowel as its fourth letter • Means-end analysis (a heuristic) ○ Break problem into subgoals 3 Types of Problems (Greeno) 1. Arrangement problems – e.g., anagrams: KEROJ  JOKER 2. Inducing structure problems – e.g., 1 2 8 3 4 6 5 6 4 7 8 3. Transformation problems – e.g., Tower of Hanoi puzzle (PROBLEM SPACE) or Rubik’s Cube Reformulation • Connect the dots using only 4 lines Mental Set • A tendency to repeat a solution process that has succeeded previously • Luchins, 1942 • Water jar problem Duncker (1945) • Origin of “thinking outside the box” • Functional fixedness • Using the objects in the picture, mount the candle to the wall. • People don’t think to use to box that the tacks are in. Functional fixedness – treating an object as having only one function; not thinking creatively Nov 23, 2011
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