Psychological Problem Solving

The search space in which the person is looking for the solution does not contain the solution, because it is overly restricted.For example, in the Five-Square problem, most problem solvers start placing sticks to positions that touch original stick positions, i.e., they do not consider putting sticks further away from the initial shape. (2014a), they are constrained by the false assumption that the shape should stay in one piece.Solvers reported insight more often than non-solvers and non-solvers reported impasse more often than solvers, as expected; but participants did not report impasse more often during behaviorally defined impasse stages than during other stages.This shows that impasse reports might be unreliable indicators of impasse.Its behavioral correlate (or rather causal effect) is sometimes identified as the critical move—the first move that goes outside the restricted search space (Jones, 2003).The fourth stage is conscious search again, but now, in the extended search space, at the end of which the problem solver finds the solution (Öllinger et al., 2014b).Our study highlights the importance of individual analysis of problem solving behavior to verify insight theory.

” experience that is usually used as the defining feature of insight problem solving (Bowden and Beeman, 1998; Boden, 2004; Bowden et al., 2005; Kounios et al., 2006; Danek et al., 2013, 2014).After the task they were asked about their feelings related to insight and some of them also had the possibility of reporting impasse while working on the task.We found that the majority of participants did not follow the classic four-stage model of insight, but had more complex sequences of problem solving stages, with search and impasse recurring several times.An example is the Five-Square problem (Katona, 1940), where problem solvers see a cross shape made of matchsticks (Figure 1) and they have to replace three matchsticks in order to get a shape of four squares of equal size instead of the given five squares in the cross shape.According to the restructuring hypothesis, insight problem solving is different from analytic problem solving (Fleck and Weisberg, 2013): problem solvers cannot assess how far they are from the solution (Metcalfe and Wiebe, 1987), and the solution pops into the problem solvers' mind suddenly and unexpectedly, evoking an Eureka moment, or “Aha! This moment of enlightenment is usually—according to some, necessarily (Ohlsson, 1992; Knoblich et al., 1999, 2001; Jones, 2003; Öllinger et al., 2014a)—preceded by a longer period of impasse when the problem solver gets stuck and has no idea how to proceed. The initial position of sticks on the grid in the five square problem. We show a 5-by-5 grid here, but in the computerized task, the cross shape was in the middle of a 9-by-9 grid.The first stage is most often described on the behavioral level: the problem solver repeatedly attempts to solve the task, but fails.The underlying cognitive process is supposed to be conscious search in the initial, constrained search space (e.g., Mac Gregor et al., 2001).(2010) proposed that the underlying search might be evolutionary and parallel in nature.That means that several search processes are launched at the same time and their results are tested against a criterion of success (fitness function).The second stage, impasse, is usually identified by mental states: frustration, feeling being stuck, not knowing how to proceed (Ohlsson, 1992; Danek et al., 2014).People who cannot solve the task get stuck in this stage.

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