PS2822 week 9 Problem Solving

Well defined problems
Aspects of the problem well defined.

The goal is well specified.
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Ill-defined problems
unspecified - no clear goal.

many possible strategies.
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Knowledge-rich problems
relevant knowledge is needed to solve the problem.
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Knowledge-lean problems
Information needed to solve the problem is in the initial problem statement.

minimises individual differences.
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Problem space
A problem space for each problem consists of initial state, goal state, and all possible mental operators that can be applied to any state to change it into a different state
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Gestalt approach: insight and role of experience
Distinguished between reproductive thinking and productive thinking.
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Reproductive thinking
involves the systematic reuse of previous experiences.
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Productive thinking
involves a novel restructuring of the problem and is more complex than reproductive thinking.

Solved using insight
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Metcalfe and Wiebe (1987)
Insight problems (e.g. triangle/chain) solved suddenly.

Non-insight (algebra) problems solved gradually.
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Facilitating insight: hints
Even subtle hints are useful – Thomas and Lleras (2009), two string problem.
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Insight: Incubation and sleep
Sleep enhanced performance on difficult problems but not easy ones.

Forgetting misleading information.

The strategies tried are forgotten making it easier to adopt a new approach.
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Representational change
incorrect initial representation can lead to blocks. Changing this can occur in 3 ways:

1: Constraint relaxation - changed opinion on fixed elements of the problem.

2. Re-encoding - problem reinterpreted.

3. Elaboration - new info is added.
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Representational change: findings
Roman numeral task. Initial representation was based on the assumption that numeric values had to be changed.

Prefrontal cortex. Brain stimulation was used to reduce the excitability of the anterior temporal lobes of the cortex but to increase that of th
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Representational change -Evaluation
Cannot predict when/why problem’s representation will change
Individual differences were not considered by some researchers
Constraint relaxation are often not the only thing needed to solve insight problems
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Past experience: Functional fixedness
Numerous failures on insight problems occur due to being misled by past experience.

Tack box seen as a container instead of a platform.
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Past experience: mental set
Using a previously successful problem-solving strategy even when it is inappropriate.

Water jug problem. solved using the same pattern of pouring, but some could be solved more efficiently using different methods.
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Strategies: Means–ends analysis
procurement of mini-goals within a larger goal to better analyse progress.

In a maze, One group was unaware of the end goal. the no-goal-information group performed less errors.
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Strategies: Hill climbing
Involves changing the present state within the problem into one closer to the goal

Like a climber who tries to reach the highest mountain peak by always moving upwards - might get trapped on a hill.
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Strategies: Progress monitoring
If progress is too slow - people adopt a different strategy

The nine-dot problem: Worse performance when participants had the illusion of making progress and so were slow to switch strategies.
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Strategies: Planning
Most people presented with complex problems will engage in some preliminary planning.

Areas of prefrontal cortex associated with planning. damage to this area resulted in worse performance.
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Strategies: Cognitive miserliness
majority of people are cognitive misers - i.e., economical with his/her time and effort on tasks requiring thinking.

The Cognitive Reflection Test provides evidence of the extent to which people are cognitive misers
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Analogical problem solving
tumor and fortress analogy.

Only 10% of participants solved it when presented on its own
80% of participants solved it when informed of the analogy
However, only 40% did so when not informed of its relevance
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Analogical problem solving: processes
four-term analogy problems.

Analogies can be detected unconsciously.

Sequential processing stages:
Encoding of the first pair of words based on the relationship between them
Mapping (a connection is formed between the first words of each pair and an inf
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Analogical problem solving: Working memory
Solving analogies requires the limited capacity of the central executive
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Analogical problem solving: Individual differences
Individuals high in working memory capacity may have superior Raven’s performance.

High correlation between attentional capacity and Raven’s Matrices
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deliberate practice
Expertise can be developed through deliberate practice.

Increase the transfer of information to long-term memory
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deliberate practice - Limitations
- Hard to assess deliberate practice with precision
- Correlational not causality
- Deliberate practice is not sufficient to produce skill
- The model ignores innate talent
- Individual differences in IQ are important
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Ill-defined problems


unspecified - no clear goal.

many possible strategies.

Card 3


Knowledge-rich problems


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Knowledge-lean problems


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Problem space


Preview of the front of card 5
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