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11. PSY270 Ch.11 Problem Solving.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Kristie Dukewich

11. PSY270 Ch.11 Problem Solving 12/6/2012 4:20:00 PM Overview: 1. What is a problem? 2. Gestalt approach: Problem solving as representation and restructuring 3. Modern research on problem solving: The information processing approach 4. Using analogies to solve problems 5. How experts solve problems 6. Sleep inspires insight Chapter order:  Problem solving & restructuring  Problem solving as search  Analogies & problem solving  Experts & non-experts  Creativity 1. What is a problem?  A problem occurs when there is an obstacle between a present state and a goal, and its solution is not immediately obvious how to get around the obstacle. o Well-defined (e.g. maths, “correct”) vs. Ill-defined (everyday life, no correct answer) 2. Gestalt approach: Problem solving as representation and restructuring  The Gestalt psychologists focused on how people represent a problem in their mind. o They devised a number of problems to illustrate how solving a problem involves a restructuring of this representation (perceiving an object and representing it in another way) and to demonstrate factors that pose obstacles to problem solving.  The Gestalt psychologists introduced the idea that reorganization is associated with insight – a sudden realization of a problems solution. o Insight has been demonstrated experimentally by tracking how close people feel they are to solving “insight” and “non- insight” problems.  Median warmth rating vs. Time before solution  (Algebra) (Insight)  Functional fixedness is an obstacle to problem solving that is illustrated by o Duncker’s candle problem (how matchbox was presented to them, full of matches as container or empty influenced their problem solving skills to use the box or not)  More people solved the problem when given empty boxes  Less people solved the problem with boxes as containers = functional fixedness (“box is a container, not a support”) o Maier’s two-string problem.  Seeing the string swing from side to side triggered the insight necessary to figure out the solution (using pliers as a weight to bring the two strings together) = participants restructured their representation of how to achieve the solution (get strings to swing) + their representation of the function of the pliers (as a weight!) Both candle problem + two-string problem issue = difficult because of peoples preconceptions about the uses of objects. o When a person encounters a situation that influences his or her approach to a problem = Situationally produced mental set.  illustrated by Luchin’s water-jug problem.  Solving a problem often involves creating a new representation  This led to the IPA 3. Modern research on problem solving: The information processing approach  Alan Newell and Herbert Simon were early proponents of the information processing approach to problem solving. o They saw problem solving as the searching of a problem space to find the path between the statement of the problem (the initial state) and the solution to the problem (the goal state). o This search is governed by operators and is usually accomplished by setting sub-goals. o The Tower of Hanoi problem has been used to illustrate this process.  Initial state: 3 discs stacked on the left peg  Goal state: these discs stacked on the right peg  Rules: Discs moved one at a time, no discs on top of it, large disc can never be placed on top a smaller one  Intermediate states = progress through steps until reaching the goal state.  One way to direct the search is to use the means-end analysis strategy = to reduce the difference between initial and goal states. By creating sub-goals to create intermediate states that are closer to the goal.  The acroba
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