Psych 2H03: Human Learning and Cognition
Chapter 11: Solving Problems
Problem: a situation that occurs when the goal state and the current state are
Problem solving: transforming the current state into the goal state.
Representation: the understanding of a problem: what facts it specifies, what
action is required, and what possible methods can be used to solve it.
Routine problem solving: the application of learned knowledge or techniques to
find a solution.
Nonroutine problem solving: the use of strategies or procedures that do not
guarantee a solution, but offer the possibility of success.
Well-defined problem: problems that have definite goals, specify all relevant
information, and for which a clear answer is obvious.
Ill-defined problem: a problem that does not contain a clearly specified goal,
information, or solution.
Open domain: an area or topic without restrictions; any information can be
Impersonal reasoning: a calculation that can be applied to any topic and doesn’t
involve the reasoned.
Personal reasoning: a form of inference (i.e., some aspects of moral reasoning of
which values and beliefs dominate).
Metacognition: the ability to reason and draw inferences coupled with the ability to
determine if the reasoning process is progressing correctly.
Epistemic monitoring: in an ill-defined problem, the ability to determine if a
legitimate representation of the problem is being made, along with the correct
understanding and appropriate methods needed to reach a solution.
Framing: a description of a situation that influences the kind of representation and
methods a person uses to solve a problem.
Analogical reasoning: problem solving based on noticing similarities between a
current problem and one that was encountered in the past. Closed domain: an area of topic that contains all the information needed to find a
clear solution to a problem, such as in a well-defined problem.
Insight: perceiving the solution to a problem at an unexpected time or in an
unanticipated way (e.g., the aha! Experience).
Creativity: problem solutions that are both novel and useful.
Functional fixedness: failure to see a different use for an object; inability to change
the organization of a proble.
Dopaminergic theory of positive affect (DTPA): the theory that mood affects the
production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which in turn activates parts of the
brain that contribute to problem solving and creativity