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12 - Problem Solving

# 12 - Problem Solving - A problem Any discrepancy between a...

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1 • A problem: – Any discrepancy between a present situation and a desired goal • A narrower definition: – There exists an obstacle between a present state and a goal, and it is not immediately obvious how to get around the obstacle. • Problem solving: – Any attempt by a cognitive agent to reduce or eliminate a perceived problem – What you do when you don’t know what to do – A slow, deliberate cognitive processing – Solution not immediately obvious – Speed & accuracy not useful measures – Verbal protocols & introspection • Adapted from the Gestalt theory of perception. • Gestalt – a whole pattern, a form, of a configuration (whole is more than the sum of parts). • Investigated non routine problems. Kohler (1920s): left food in hard to reach places and found that chimps used props to solve problems. He noted a behavior pattern: failure, pause, looking at the potential tools, and then attempting to use the tools. This seemed to involve insight and planning, at least on the first occasion. Problem Solving := – Problem perception – Reorganization and restructuring of a problem representation . • Example: – Circle with radius r. – How long is x?

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2 Solution to circle problem requires a “perceptual” insight. • Insight problems: – Sudden solution (‘ Aha!’ experience) • Question: Are insight problems qualitatively different from other problems? Metcalfe & Wiebe (1987) Example of a non-insight problem: – Solve for x: (1/5) x + 10 = 25 Stages: (1/5) x = 25 – 10 (1/5) x = 15 x = 15 * 5 X = 75 At each stage it is clear that the solution is closer. Metcalfe & Wiebe (1987) Example of an insight problem: – Triangle problem: • Move 3 pins so that the triangle faces downwards. Metcalfe & Wiebe (1987) Example of an insight problem: Solution to the triangle problem Metcalfe & Wiebe (1987) • Results: – Non insight problems: Perceived ‘warmth’ increases gradually. – Insight problems: Perceived warmth increases ‘suddenly’.
3 • Experience can sometimes hinder problem solving. • Duncker (1945)’s candle problem: Mount a candle to the wall, so that it can burn without dripping. You may only use these objects: • Necessary ‘insight’: – The match box must be seen as a support, rather than a container. • Adamson’s (1952) replication: • Presentation mode matters empty boxes less likely to be viewed only as containers.

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12 - Problem Solving - A problem Any discrepancy between a...

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