Barriers to problem solving Psychology
Solving a problem is reaching a goal state; there are many things that can stand in the way of solving a problem, but many strategies that can help.
- Evaluate strategies for solving problems, and barriers to solving them
- Mental set is a barrier to problem solving; it is an unconscious tendency to approach a problem in a certain way. Functional fixedness is a subtype of mental set and refers to the inability to see an object's potential uses aside from its prescribed uses.
- Unnecessary constraints are when people construct mental blocks to solving a problem.
- Irrelevant information is distracting information that is unnecessary to solving the problem but is framed as being part of the problem.
- A heuristic is a rule of thumb that is useful in problem solving but does not guarantee a correct solution; an algorithm is a set of steps that will lead to a solution.
- availability heuristic
When a person makes a judgment about the probability of an event based on the ease with which it comes to mind.
- functional fixedness
When the intended purpose of an object hinders a person's ability to see its potential other uses.
- mental set
An unconscious tendency to approach a problem in a particular way.
The difference between the current situation and a goal.
The human mind is a problem-solving machine. You may not realize it, but as you walk through the world, you are solving problems every second—everything from "I'm running late, what's the quickest way for me to get to class?" to "Where did I leave my wallet?" to "What should my psychology paper be about?"
In psychology, "problem solving" refers to a way of reaching a goal from a present condition, where the present condition is either not directly moving toward the goal, is far from it, or needs more complex logic in order to find steps toward the goal. It is considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, since it is a higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of basic skills. There are considered to be two major domains in problem solving: mathematical problem solving, which involves problems capable of being represented by symbols, and personal problem solving, where some difficulty or barrier is encountered.
Mental Set and Functional Fixedness
A mental set is an unconscious tendency to approach a problem in a particular way. Our mental sets are shaped by our past experiences and habits. For example, if the last time your computer froze you restarted it and it worked, that might be the only solution you can think of the next time it freezes.
Functional fixedness is a special type of mental set that occurs when the intended purpose of an object hinders a person's ability to see its potential other uses. So for example, say you need to open a can of broth but you only have a hammer. You might not realize that you could use the pointy, two-pronged end of the hammer to puncture the top of the can, since you are so accustomed to using the hammer as simply a pounding tool.
The dot problem
In the dot problem, described below, solvers must attempt to connect all nine dots with no more than four lines, without lifting their pen from the paper.