The Psychology Of Problem Solving

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If we think of Knut's fairly ill-defined task of writing an essay, he will not be able to complete this task without first understanding the text he has to write about. Interestingly, ill-defined problems often involve subproblems that are well-defined.

One dominant approach to Problem Solving originated from Gestalt psychologists in the 1920s.

This is not because the situation itself is trivial (a robot capable of recognising the mug, deciding whether it is full, then grabbing it and moving it to Knut’s mouth would be a highly complex machine) but because in the context of all possible situations it is so trivial that it no longer is a problem our consciousness needs to be bothered with.

The problems we will discuss in the following all need some conscious effort, though some seem to be solved without us being able to say how exactly we got to the solution.

Though all these problems were of crucial importance during the evolutionary process that created us the way we are, they are by no means solved exclusively by humans.

The Psychology Of Problem Solving Sdsu Thesis Lookup

We find a most amazing variety of different solutions for these problems in nature (just consider, e.g., by which means a bat hunts its prey, compared to a spider).All of a sudden he smashes his fist on the table and cries out: "I need a plan!" That thing Knut is confronted with is something everyone of us encounters in his daily life. These are just a few of the questions we want to answer in this chapter.Still we will find that often the strategies we use to solve these problems are applicable to more basic problems, too.Non-trivial, abstract problems can be divided into two groups: For many abstract problems it is possible to find an algorithmic solution.Analysing the problem domain according to different dimensions, i.e., changing from one representation to another, results in arriving at a new understanding of a problem.This is basically what is described as restructuring. Knut is sitting at his desk again, staring at a blank paper in front of him, while nervously playing with a pen in his right hand.Just a few hours left to hand in his essay and he has not written a word.For this essay we will mainly focus on those problems that are not solved by animals or evolution, that is, all kinds of abstract problems (e.g. Furthermore, we will not consider those situations as problems that have an obvious solution: Imagine Knut decides to take a sip of coffee from the mug next to his right hand.He does not even have to think about how to do this.


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