Problem-Solving

Problem-Solving

Behaviorist psychologists thought problems were solved by trial & error and reproducing past responses.

Cognitive psychologists were convinced problem-solving wasn't random but that there was a series of mental processes involved.

The types of problems studied:

Three areas of problem-solving to be discussed:
A theory for solving transformation type problems: Newell & Simon's General Problem Solver
Two Important parts of Memory in Problem-Solving:
The key difficulty in solving any transformation type problem is determining which operators to apply and when to apply them.
Common Strategies for determining which Operators to Apply:
(These are called heuristics. They are general strategies that often, but don't always, help in solving a problem.)

Expertise & Problem-Solving

Anderson (1988) suggested that there are two different types of problem-solving procedures used. These differentiate between novices and experts.

Examples:
return to top
Problem-Solving by Analogy

Analogy -- Solving a problem by using a solution to a related problem. This requires:
Gick & Holyoak (1980)
Results:
Conclusion: Persons are relatively good at inferring solutions from analogies if they realize an anology is appropriate. The greater difficulty is realizing the analogy is appropriate.

What factors determine whether an analogy is seen as appropriate?
return to top

Solving Insight Problems

Schooler, Ohlsson & Brooks (1993) have recently suggested that solving insight based problems rely on different mental systems (structures) than solving logical, transformation problems.

They suggested that logical, transformation problems were solved with Verbal systems, but insight problems were solved with Nonverbal systems.

Experiment:
Results:
Conclusion: Forcing S's to use their Verbal system of processing decreased insight problem solving ability suggesting that the Verbal system is not used to solve these types of problems. Use of the Verbal system seems crucial to solving logic problems.

return to top