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Chapter 8.2

PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8.2: Decision-Making, Representativeness Heuristic, Cognitive Bias

Course Code
Steve Joordens

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Problem Solving, Judgement, and Decision Making
In a statement released to other media outlets, the Post claimed that Mr. Abbasi felt that
he wasn’t strong enough to lift the man and instead tried to use his camera’s flash to signal
the driver
According to this explanation, Mr. Abbasi analyzed the situation and selected a course of
action that he felt would be most helpful
Regardless of whether you believe this account, it does illustrate an important point:
Reasoning and decision making can be performed in a number of ways and can
be influenced by a number of factors
That is why we don’t all respond the same way to the same situation
Focus Questions
How do people make decisions and solve problems?
How can having multiple options lead to people to be dissatisfied with their decisions?
Although it may seem like such “higher-order cognitive abilities” are distinct from memory
and categorization, they are actually a wonderful example of how the different topics
within the field of psychology relate to each other
When we try to solve a problem or decide between alternatives, we are actually
drawing on our knowledge of different concepts and using that information to try to
imagine different possible outcomes
How well we perform these tasks depends on a number of factors including our
problem-solving strategies and the type of information available to us
Defining and Solving Problems
In psychological terminology, problem solving: means accomplishing a goal when the
solution or the path to the solution is not clear
Many of the problems that we face in life contain obstacles that interfere with our ability
to reach our goals
Challenge is to find a technique or strategy that will allow us to overcome these
Problem-Solving Strategies and Techniques
Seems to be two common techniques that we use time and again
Chapter 8.2
Monday, November 4, 2019

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d can
try to

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Seems to be two common techniques that we use time and again
One type of strategy is more objective, logical, and slower, whereas the other is more
subjective, intuitive, and quicker
Logical approach
Involve making of list of the places you've been in the last 24 hours and then
retracing your steps until you (hopefully) find your phone
Rely on algorithms: problem-solving strategies based on a series of rules
They are very logical and follow a set of steps, usually in a pre-set order
Intuitive approach
Involve thinking about previous times you've lost your phone or wallet and
using these experiences to guide your search
We tend to rely on institution to find strategies and solutions that seem like a
good fit for the problem
Heuristics: problem-solving strategies that stem from prior experiences and
provide an educated guess as to what is the most likely solution
The overall goal of both algorithms and heuristics is to find an accurate solution as
efficiently as possible
In many situations, heuristics allow us to solve problems quite rapidly
However, the trade-off is that these shortcuts can occasionally lead to incorrect
solutions, a topic we will return to later in this module
Eg. Hangman game
Cognitive Obstacles
There are times when the problem-solving rules and strategies that you have established
might actually get in the way of problem solving
Eg. The nine-dot problem is a good example of such a cognitive obstacle
The goal of this problem is to connect all nine dots using only four straight
lines and without lifting your pen or pencil off the paper
Most people impose limitations on where the lines can go, even though those
limits are not a part of the rules
Having a routine solution available for a problem generally allows us to solve that problem
with less effort than we would use if we encountered it for the first time
This efficiency saves us time and effort
Routines may impose cognitive barriers that impede solving a problem if circumstances
change so that the routine solution no longer works
A mental set: a cognitive obstacle that occurs when an individual attempts to apply
routine solution to what is actually a new type of problem
Mental sets can occur in many different situations
For instance, a person may experience functional fixedness, which occurs when an
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