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Chapter 10

# Chapter 10

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Psychology

PSYB57H3

Gabriela Ilie

Winter

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Chapter 10 Problem Solving and Reasoning Thinking is the process of mentally representing the aspects of the world and then transforming those representations to new representations that can prove useful to our goals. Thinking is often a conscious process and we are aware of the process of transforming mental representations and we get a chance to reflect on the thoughts. Thinking involves problem solving and reasoning Problem Solving is that goaldirected activity; involving the application of cognitive processes to overcome the obstacles and achieve a goal Reasoning involves the cognitive processes that we use to make inferences from knowledge and draw conclusions. The Nature of Problem Solving Problem is a situation where there is no apparent, standard or routine way of reaching a goal. Often there is difficulty in the pathway to the goal that has to be overcome. Problem solving requires surmounting obstacles to achieve a goal Routine situations with routine answers are not considered problems. There must be novel or nonstandard solution that the problem solver must discover. The research on problem solving works to identify the strategies used when confronted with a novel situation and we must decide on a course of action. Problem solver: i. Identifies the problem ii. Finds a way to represent it iii. Choose a course of action that will make it possible to achieve the goal Problem solving makes use of memory, attention and perception The Structure of a Problem At a basic level, problem comprises of 3 parts: i. Initial statestart state; where you face the problem that has to be solved 1 www.notesolution.com ii. Set of operations; that need to be carried out to the destinationgoal iii. Goal state; where the solution has been attained and problem has been solved Problems can be well-defined where the initial state, goal state and the set of possible moves are clearly defined e.g. chess Often problems can be ill-defined where the initial state, operations or even the goal of the problem is not known for sure. To solve an illdefined problem, it is important to first find the constraints i.e. restrictions on solutions. By removing the constraints, we can make the pathway to the goal easier A type of illdefined problem is called insight problem where despite all the unknowns, the answer seems to come to mind in a flash second of understanding. E.g. when solving riddles Problem Space Theory Problem space theory involves searching for a solution within a problem space Problem space refers to a set of possible choices that the problem solver comes across at each step in moving from the initial state to the goal state. It includes the initial state, the goal state and all the possible intermediate states. The problem solver moves from state to state by various operations. This theory clearly applies to highly constrained situations where there are specific rules and clearly defined initial and goal states. For more complex and less constrained problems, the problem space theory includes multiple spaces e.g. in a scientific situation, hypothesis space to theory, experiment space to design experiments and data space to interpret results Our real life problems are more similar to such less constrained problems Strategies and Heuristics Algorithm is a set of procedures for solving a problem that will always produce the correct answer. E.g. calculating a square root or following a recipe where there are clear steps that have to be followed, and following those steps will lead to the desired outcome. Algorithms are often timeconsuming and make greater demands on both working memory and longterm memory 2 www.notesolution.com

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