Thinking and Problem Solving
July 9, 2013
1. Focused thinking (goal based, problem solving)
2. Unfocused thinking (day dreaming, unintentional)
Implicit (fast) evolved early and automatic and explicit systems (slower) evolved
Types of problems:
Well defined – have beginning and an end and have guidelines or rules. “Help Santa
find his sleigh”
Ill defined - ??? Badly defined
Techniques for solving problems: explicit strategies. Can be applied to almost any
problem. General. It’s the way you work not with what problem specifically.
1. Generate and test – generate a number of solutions and then test the
solutions. Useful if there are a limited number of possibilities. Problematic if
there are too many possibilities or can’t keep track of them.
2. Means –end - Problem space: Try to reduce the difference between the initial
state and the goal state. Involves generating a goal and then sub goals (each
Initial state – conditions at beginning of problem
Goals state – condition at the end of problem
Intermediate states – various conditions that exist along pathways between
the initial and goal state
Operators – permissible moves that can be made towards the problems
3. Working backward – Involves creating sub goals and reducing differences
between the current state and the goal state (like means end) BUT here you
start at the end result (goal state) and work backwards. Instead of looking at
the next step, look at the step that should happen before.
4. Back tracking – problem solving often involved making working
assumptions, in order to correct mistakes in problem solving need to
remember your assumptions, assess which assumptions failed and correct
the assumptions. And look at what when right and do it again etc.
5. Reasoning by analogy - Ex. Tumor problem 1945. Want to destroy it but rays
will destroy the healthy tissue. Solve something you don’t understand by
comparing it to something that you DO understand.
Gick and Holyoak: Presented participants with the tumor problem, before this
each person read the castle story some where told there was a hint to pay
attention, results: 75% of the individuals told the story solved it right. Only 30%
that were not told noticed the analogy. Only 10% solved this – Didn’t read the
story at all.
Story: inoperable tumor, if you concentrate the rays a