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Chapter 14

Chapter 14 Cognitive Psychology

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PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

Chapter 14 Solving Problems - Problem solving is the process through which you figure out how to reach your goals, staring from your current state General Problem Solving Methods Problem Solving as a search - In all cases of problem solving the point is to choose the best path for you to get from your starting point to your target - Problem solving begins with a initial state which is knowledge you already have - You are working towards a goal state - To move from the initial state to the goal state you use your operators which are the tools or actions that can change the current state - In addition to this along the path there will be path constraints which will rule out some options or solutions o These could be lack of money, transport, time etc - Each state you reach in quest to achieve the goal state can be mapped together in a kind of tree - All of the branches of this tree is called the problem space (the set of all states that can be reached in solving a problem) - This would mean that in solving a problem one has to go through all the problem space (the possible options) this would guarantee that you would find your solution - In light of having millions of options to choose from you can use your problem-solving heuristic General Problem Solving Heuristics - By observing peoples commentaries or problem solving protocols while they are working on a problem we can identify some of the strategies that these problem solvers rely on - One often used heuristic is the hill climbing strategy which simply means that at each point you choose the path that will lead you in the direction of your goal o However this strategy is of limited use because for some problems you have to move backward from your goal in order to reach it o Ex. The dog at the fence needs to back away from the fence to see the door in order to retrieve his toy - Despite these limitations people tend to use this strategy - Another heuristic is called the means-end analysis in which a person would compare the current state to the goal state and think about what means that have available to them to reach their goal o This heuristic is good because it highlights differences between where you are now and where you need to go, it also highlights the means you need to take to get there o This system will encourage you to break your problem into subproblems which each have their own goal and by solving smaller problems one by one you will eventually address the larger problem - Another strategy one could use is working backward from the goal. Its like using the means-end analysis backwards asking how the goal state can be made more similar to the current state - Both the means end and the working backward strategies are commonly used strategies, because they are often effective and are applicable to a large number or problems Mental Problems and Mental Images - in many cases it helps people to turn their problem into a mental image or a mental model - ex. The book and the bookworm Pictures and Diagrams - Several studies have found no difference between problem solving via picture and problem solving via imagery - There are important differences between mental images and pictures - Mental images have the advantage of being more easily modified then diagrams - If a problem should depend on motion then the problem could be more easily solved with mental imagery rather than a picture - However sometimes pictures are more useful then images - Images provide a lot of detail in a picture that we cannot make these kinds of detailed pictures in our minds Relying on Past Knowledge Problem-Solving via Analogy - Analogies are widely used in science and teaching o Comparing the heart to a pump - They are extremely helpful in problem solving o Ex. Of Tumor and Rays X King and army o The solve rate for the tumor problem was substantially higher when participants had read the story about the king and army and encouraged to use it in solving the Tumor problem o Participants that did not read the story solved the Tumor question with 10% right answers Difficulties in finding an Appropriate Analogy - People often fail to use Analogies - In another group who read the tumor and the king story, most people failed to apply the King story to the Tumor problem because they were not hinted to use the King story in reference to the Tumor problem - This suggests that people use analogies if suitable instructed to, if they are not, the connection between the analogy and a problem will most likely remain undiscovered - In order to properly use an analogy one has to go beyond the superficial features of the problem and think instead about the principles governing the problem - They can figure out how to apply (map) the prior case onto the problem now being solved only if they realize the similarities Strategies to Make Analogy Use More Likely - Analogies depend on a problem’s deep structure and not on the problem’s “surface structure” - Needham and Begg o Gave participants a series of training problems o Asked one group to remember the problems and solutions as they would be used later on o Asked the other group to understand the problems and solution so they could explain it to another person o This resulted in 90% of the understand participants being able to solve problems and only 69% of the remember participants being able to solve problems Expert Problem Solvers - One way in determining whether the steps of problem solving work (heuristic, analogy, understand analogy) is by examining expert problem solvers - Expert solvers do use these methods like deep structure Chunking and Subgoals - It is often helpful to create subgoals of a problem to address the problem as a whole - These are techniques used by experts too - De Groot o Study of chess experts shows that they are particularity skilled in organizing a chess game  Seeing the structure of the game, understanding its parts, and perceiving how these parts are related to each other o In o
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