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Common barriers[ edit ] Common barriers to problem solving are mental constructs that impede our ability to correctly solve problems. These barriers prevent people from solving problems in the most efficient manner possible.
Five of the most common processes and factors that researchers have identified as barriers to problem solving are confirmation biasmental setfunctional fixednessunnecessary constraints, and irrelevant information. Confirmation bias Confirmation bias is an unintentional bias caused by the collection and use of data in a way that favors a preconceived notion.
The beliefs affected by confirmation bias do not need to have motivation Writing a resolution, the desire to defend or find substantiation for beliefs that are important to that person. Andreas Hergovich, Reinhard Schott, and Christoph Burger's experiment conducted online, for instance, suggested that professionals within the field of psychological research are likely to view scientific studies that agree with their preconceived notions more favorably than studies that clash with their established beliefs.
Nickerson argued that those who killed people accused of witchcraft demonstrated confirmation bias with motivation.
Researcher Michael Allen found evidence for confirmation bias with motivation in school children who worked to manipulate their science experiments in such a way that would produce favorable results. InPeter Cathcart Wason conducted an experiment in which participants first viewed three numbers and then created a hypothesis that proposed a rule that could have been used to create that triplet of numbers.
When testing their hypotheses, participants tended to only create additional triplets of numbers that would confirm their hypotheses, and tended not to create triplets that would negate or disprove their hypotheses.
Thus research also shows that people can and do work to confirm theories or ideas that do not support or engage personally significant beliefs. Mental set Mental set was first articulated by Abraham Luchins in the s and demonstrated in his well-known water jug experiments.
After Luchins gave his participants a set of water jug problems that could all be solved by employing a single technique, he would then give them a problem that could either be solved using that same technique or a novel and simpler method.
Luchins discovered that his participants tended to use the same technique that they had become accustomed to despite the possibility of using a simpler alternative. However, as Luchins' work revealed, such methods for finding a solution that have worked in the past may not be adequate or optimal for certain new but similar problems.
Therefore, it is often necessary for people to move beyond their mental sets in order to find solutions. This was again demonstrated in Norman Maier 's experiment, which challenged participants to solve a problem by using a household object pliers in an unconventional manner.
Maier observed that participants were often unable to view the object in a way that strayed from its typical use, a phenomenon regarded as a particular form of mental set more specifically known as functional fixedness, which is the topic of the following section.
When people cling rigidly to their mental sets, they are said to be experiencing fixation, a seeming obsession or preoccupation with attempted strategies that are repeatedly unsuccessful.
Functional fixedness Functional fixedness is a specific form of mental set and fixation, which was alluded to earlier in the Maier experiment, and furthermore it is another way in which cognitive bias can be seen throughout daily life.
Tim German and Clark Barrett describe this barrier as the fixed design of an object hindering the individual's ability to see it serving other functions. In more technical terms, these researchers explained that "[s]ubjects become "fixed" on the design function of the objects, and problem solving suffers relative to control conditions in which the object's function is not demonstrated.
In research that highlighted the primary reasons that young children are immune to functional fixedness, it was stated that "functional fixedness For instance, imagine the following situation: If the man starts looking around for something in the house to kill the bug with instead of realizing that the can of air freshener could in fact be used not only as having its main function as to freshen the air, he is said to be experiencing functional fixedness.
The man's knowledge of the can being served as purely an air freshener hindered his ability to realize that it too could have been used to serve another purpose, which in this instance was as an instrument to kill the bug.
Functional fixedness can happen on multiple occasions and can cause us to have certain cognitive biases.
If people only see an object as serving one primary focus than they fail to realize that the object can be used in various ways other than its intended purpose.
This can in turn cause many issues with regards to problem solving. Common sense seems to be a plausible answer to functional fixedness. One could make this argument because it seems rather simple to consider possible alternative uses for an object. Perhaps using common sense to solve this issue could be the most accurate answer within this context.
With the previous stated example, it seems as if it would make perfect sense to use the can of air freshener to kill the bug rather than to search for something else to serve that function but, as research shows, this is often not the case. Functional fixedness limits the ability for people to solve problems accurately by causing one to have a very narrow way of thinking.
Functional fixedness can be seen in other types of learning behaviors as well.
For instance, research has discovered the presence of functional fixedness in many educational instances. Researchers Furio, Calatayud, Baracenas, and Padilla stated that " There are several hypotheses in regards to how functional fixedness relates to problem solving.Headquarters Department of the Army Washington, DC 02 June Personnel—General Effective Writing for Army Leaders Department of the Army Pamphlet – Example: Reaffirming the goal set out in paragraph 19 of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, to halve, by , the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger,.
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