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Chapter 11: Problem Solving and Creativity


Chapter 11: Problem Solving and Creativity Sternberg s Propulsion Model of Creative Contributions Replication Redefinition Forward Incrementation Advance forward ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 11: Problem Solving and Creativity

Chapter 11 Problem Solving and Creativity
Problem Solving
  • A dealer in antique coins got an offer to buy
    a beautiful bronze coin. The coin had an
    emperors head on one side and the date 544 B.C.
    on the other. The dealer examined the coin, but
    instead of buying it, he called the police. Why?
  • In 544 B.C. Christ had not been born, so a coin
    from that time would not be marked "B.C." (before

Problem Solving
  • Initial State
  • Current situation
  • Define the problem
  • Goal State
  • Desired objective
  • Obstacles
  • Choices made about limitations
  • Strategy choices
  • Limited resources

Problem Solving Cycle
Identify Problem
Evaluate success
Define Problem
Monitor Solving
Select Strategy
Allocate Resources
Organize Info
Sample Problem
  • 15 of the people in Topeka have unlisted
    numbers. You select 200 names at random from the
    Topeka phone book. How many of these people will
    have unlisted numbers?
  • Did you say 30?
  • The correct answer is zero

Sample Problem
  • A  man wanted to enter an exclusive club but did
    not know the password that was required. He
    waited by the door and listened. A club member
    knocked on the door and the doorman said,
    "twelve." The member replied, "six " and was let
    in. A second member came to the door and the
    doorman said, "six." The member replied, "three"
    and was let in. The man thought he had heard
    enough and walked up to the door. The doorman
    said ,"ten" and the man replied, "five." But he
    was not let in.
  • What should have he said?
  • Three. The doorman lets in those who answer with
    the number of letters in the word the doorman

Problem Representation
  • The importance of determining what information is
    relevant and what information is irrelevant is
    the process of problem representation
  • People pay attention to the wrong information
  • People need to focus on the right information

Strategy Formation
  • Select a strategy to solve the problem
  • Analysis
  • Breaking into sub goals
  • Study for exam sub goals
  • Read textbook class notes
  • Identify most relevant topics
  • Create study questions answers on note cards
  • Learn all concepts on note cards
  • Test self with note cards
  • Recycle through learning and testing until
    mastery is achieved

Strategy Formation
  • Divergent thinking
  • Generate multiple solutions to problem
  • Convergent thinking
  • Narrow down to best answer

Organization of Information
  • Organize to aid solution
  • Symbols
  • Matrixes
  • Diagrams

Let L Lucy, S Sean, 2L3S, S10
  Mango Peach Steak
Alex x 0 x
Jarod x x 0
Henry 0 x x
Problem Solving Cycle
Identify Problem
Evaluate success
Define Problem
Monitor Solving
Select Strategy
Allocate Resources
Organize Info
Types of Problems
  • Well-structured problems
  • Clear path to the solution
  • Math problems
  • Anagrams
  • Ill-structured problems
  • Dimensions of problem are not specified or easy
    to infer
  • Finding an apartment
  • Writing a book

Methods for Studying Problem Solving
  • Error analysis or reaction time
  • Global measures of performance
  • Verbal protocols
  • Participants speak their thoughts out loud while
    solving problems
  • Strategies become evident in protocols
  • Computer stimulation
  • Create models that can recreate human data

Newell and Simon (1972)
  • Problem space
  • All possible actions that can be applied to a
  • Consists of states and operators
  • States represent the problem
  • Initial-given information prior knowledge
  • Goal-desired outcome
  • Operators transform one state to another state
  • Permitted or selected moves

Newell and Simon (1972)
  • Use verbal protocol and reproduce using a
    production rule system to create a similar
    representation of the problem
  • Created a General Problem Solver (GPS)

Strategies to Solve Problems
  • Algorithms
  • Systematic procedure guaranteed to find a
  • Heuristics
  • Useful rule of thumb based on experience
  • Efficient but does not guarantee a correct

Heuristics for Problem Solving
  • Mean-ends analysis
  • Working forward
  • Working backward
  • Generate and test

Means-End Analysis
  • Compare your current state with the goal and
    choose an action to bring you closer to the goal
  • Break a problem down into smaller sub goals
  • Win at Monopoly
  • You start by buying properties, continue to buy
    until you get a set, buy houses, then buy hotels,
    wait for others to land on spaces, etc.
  • May not work if sub goals cannot be identified  

Working Forward
  • Start at initial state and work to goal state
  • Math problems
  • (2 6)/(4 x 1) ?
  • Complete the math inside parenthesis first, then
    divide the quantities to get to solution

Working Backward
  • Figure out the last step needed to reach your
    goal, then the next-to-the-last step, and so on
  • You have lost your keys
  • Try to remember the last time you used them and
    work backwards
  • Work backwards from goal state

Generate and Test
  • Trial and error strategy
  • Create possibilities, test them and discard the
    ones that are incorrect
  • Your car will not start
  • Wait a moment and try again, may be flooded
  • Check to see if there is gas, if no success
  • Check to see if the battery is charged etc.
  • This may not be the most efficient strategy

Transformation Problem
  • Hobbits Orcs
  • Three hobbits and three orcs come to a river and
    find a boat that holds two. If the Orcs ever
    outnumber the Hobbits on either bank, the Hobbits
    will be eaten.
  • How do you get them all to the other side?

Tower of Hanoi
  • Move all the discs from the left peg to the right
    one. Only one disc may be moved at a time. A disc
    can be placed either on an empty peg or on top of
    a larger disc. The goal is to move all the discs
    using the smallest number of moves possible.

Solution is the same as Forest Burners Forest
Lovers in text
Recognizing the Isomorphic
  • Reed (1987) found that participants have
    difficulty recognizing that a past problems
    solution will help them to solve the current
  • Difficulty in recognizing crucial commonalities
  • Surface features of the problem distract
  • Current research focuses on factors that help the
    transfer of solutions

Insight and Problem Solving
  • Insight is the apparent sudden solution to a
    problem some time after the problem has been
  • Metcalfe Weibe (1987)
  • Participants were given either insight or algebra
    problems to solve
  • Insight A prisoner was attempting escape from a
    tower. He found in his cell a rope which was half
    long enough to permit him to reach the ground
    safely. He divided the rope in half and tied the
    two parts together and escaped. How could this
  • Algebra (3x2 2x 10)(3x) ?

Metcalf Wiebe (1987) Results
  • Participants indicated how close they were to
    solution every 15 seconds
  • 1 being very cold to 7 being very warm
  • For insight problems
  • Sudden shift in warmth rating
  • For algebra problems
  • A getting warmer pattern

Insight and Brain Activity
  • Neural activity associated with insight
  • fMRI studies found
  • Right hippocampus is active during problem
  • Another found spike in temporal lobe just before

Gestalt View of Insight
  • Wertheimer
  • Sudden rearrangement of elements creates
  • Productive thinking goes beyond previously
    learned associations
  • Kohler
  • Animal Model of Insight
  • Sultan stacked boxes to get banana

Three-Process View
  • Davis Sternberg (1984)
  • Selective-encoding insights
  • Sorting relevant from irrelevant
  • Selective-comparison insights
  • Make connections to previously learned
  • Selective-combination insights
  • Combine elements in a novel way

  • Current Debate
  • Is insight a special process or just a normal
    process in problem solving?

Schooler, Ohlsson Brooks (1993)
  • Proposed that solving insight problems rely on
    different mental structures than solving logical
    transformation problems
  • Logical, transformation problems were solved with
    verbal systems, but insight problems were solved
    with nonverbal systems
  • Participants were asked to solve a series of
    insight and logic problems
  • Half the participants were required to verbalize
    their strategies as they tried to solve the
  • The control group did not verbalize as they
    solved the problem

Schooler, Ohlsson Brooks (1993) Results
Obstacles to Problem Solving
  • Mental set
  • Functional fixedness
  • Incorrect or incomplete representation of the
  • Lack of domain knowledge

Mental Set
  • Seeing a problem in a particular way instead of
    other plausible ways due to experience or context
  • May cause you to adopt an ineffective strategy
    and prevents problem solving
  • May make assumptions without realizing it
  • May find it hard to approach the problem in a new

Luchins (1942) Water Jar Problem
  • How would you use 3 jars with the indicated
    capacities to measure out the desired amount of

Problem Jar A Jar B Jar C Desired
1 29 3 2 20
2 21 127 3 100
3 14 163 25 99
4 18 43 10 5
5 9 42 6 21
6 20 59 4 31
7 23 49 3 20
8 15 39 3 18
9 28 76 3 25
Bar Problem
  • A man walked into a bar and asked for a drink.
    The man behind the bar pulled out a gun and shot
    the man. Why should that be so?
  • Solution The man behind the bar wasnt a
    bartender. He was a robber.

Functional Fixedness
  • An inability to assign new functions and roles to
    elements of a problem
  • Two string problem
  • Dunckers candle problem

  • Negative Transfer
  • Solving prior problem makes it more difficult to
    solve later problem
  • Positive Transfer
  • Solving earlier problem helps to solve later
  • Gick Holyoak examine factors contributing to
    positive transfer

Gick Holyoak (1980)
  • Give participants one problem to read with a
  • Give same participants a second problem which can
    be solved using a similar solution

Gick Holyoak (1980)
  • Analogous General/Fortress problem
  • A dictator ruled a small country from a
    fortress. The fortress was situated in the middle
    of the country and many roads radiated outward
    from it, like spokes on a wheel. A great general
    vowed to capture the fortress and free the
    country from the dictator. The general knew that
    if his entire army could attack the fortress at
    once it could be captured. But a spy reported
    that the dictator had planted mines on each of
    the roads. The mines were set so that small
    bodies of men could pass over them safely, since
    the dictator needed to be able to move troops and
    workers about, however, any large force would
    detonate the mines. Not only would this blow up
    the road, but the dictator would destroy many
    villages in retaliation. A full-scale direct
    attack on the fortress therefore seemed

Gick Holyoak (1980)
  • Solution to general problem
  • The general, however, was undaunted. He divided
    his army up into small groups and dispatched each
    group to the head of a different road. When all
    was ready he gave the signal, and each group
    charged down a different road. All of the small
    groups passed safely over the mines, and the army
    then attacked the fortress in full strength. In
    this way the general was able to capture the

Ask Participants to Solve this Problem
  • Radiation problem
  • Given a human being with an inoperable stomach
    tumor, and rays that destroy organic tissue at
    sufficient intensity, by what procedure can one
    free him of the tumor by these rays and at the
    same time avoid destroying the healthy tissue
    that surrounds it?

Gick Holyoak (1980)
  • 3 groups of participants
  • Control group that only tried to solve the
    radiation problem
  • A group previously given the analogous
    General/Fortress problem solution
  • A group given the General/Fortress problem and
    told that its solution would help in solving the
    radiation problem

Gick Holyoak (1980) Results
Factors Affecting Use of Analogies
  • Similarity
  • Number of examples exposed to
  • Gick and Holyoak conducted a study in which the
    dictator story was just one of three other
    stories participants heard before radiation
  • Only 20 got the problem correct
  • Whether schema for problem is activated
  • If the two problems are separated by a delay or
    if they are presented in different contexts,
    almost none of the participants use the analogy

  • Time away from a problem provides new insights or
    otherwise facilitates the problem solving process
  • Release from a problem solving set, or functional
  • Retrieval of new information by changing context
  • Recovery from fatigue

Neuropsychology of Planning
  • Frontal lobe active in problem solving
  • Prefrontal cortex active in planning

  • Not a general ability
  • Experts have extensive knowledge that is used to
    organize, represent, and interpret information
  • Thus affecting their abilities to remember,
    reason, and solve problems

Chase Simon (1973) DeGroot (1965)
  • Participants were chess masters and beginning
    chess players
  • Studied a chess board that had the pieces
    randomly displayed or a chess board with pieces
    in the middle of a game.
  • Beginners and experts had to recall as many
    pieces as they could

Experts vs. Beginners Under what condition did
the experts remember more?
  • Master chess players and beginning players
    recalled a similar number of pieces from the
    random board
  • Master chess players remember significantly more
    chess pieces from the game board in play than did
    the beginning chess players

Beer Study
  • Valentin, Chollet, Beal Patris (2007)
  • Beer experts
  • Two year beer training program in France
  • Beer Novices
  • No prior training
  • Tasted a series of 8 different beers

Beer Study
  • Assessed memory of beers between experts and
  • Experts remembered more

Experts Differ From Novices
  • Better schemas
  • Well organized knowledge in specific domain
  • Less time to set up problem
  • Select more appropriate strategies
  • Faster at solving problems
  • Are more accurate

Innate Talent vs. Acquired Skill
  • Clear that expertise requires acquired skill BUT
    some performance is not explainable by knowledge
    level alone

  • Process of creating something that is original
    and worthwhile

  • May refer to
  • The product
  • The person\personality creating the product
  • The process
  • Steps followed to create the product
  • The environment
  • A synthesis of all of the above

Psychometric View
  • Emphasis is on the measure of the product a
    person createscreativity test scores
  • Guilford (1950)
  • Torrance (1988)

The Process Approach
  • Weisberg (1988)
  • Nothing innately special about people
  • Hard work and dedication leads to creativity

Personality Approach
  • Baron (1988)
  • Way of looking at things
  • Amabile (1996)
  • Intrinsic motivation is important

Environment Approach
  • Csikszentmihalyi (1996)
  • Must examine historical and social context in
    which product is made
  • When one achieves balance with context, one
    achieves flow
  • Flow is the enjoyment we experience when we are
    engaged in mental and physical challenges that
    absorb us

A Synthesis
  • Gardner (1993)
  • Examined case studies of creative people
  • Albert Einstein (logical-mathematical),
  • Pablo Picasso (spatial)
  • T. S. Elliot (linguistic)
  • Mohandas Gandhi (interpersonal)
  • Most of these individuals had strengths in more
    than one intelligence (confluence), and had
    noticeable weaknesses in others
  • Identified internal and external influences
  • First become a master then creativity is possible

Sternberg, Kaufman, Pretz (2002)
  • Confluence of six main resources are necessary
    for creativity
  • intellectual abilities, knowledge, styles of
    thinking, personality, motivation, and
  • Three intellectual abilities are especially
  • Synthetic ability
  • To see problems using novel perspectives and not
    be bound by conventional thinking
  • Analytic ability
  • To recognize the importance of ideas and focus
    energy on those worth pursuing
  • Practical-contextual
  • To be able to convey and sell the importance of
    the ideas to others

Neuroscience of Creativity
  • Prefrontal regions are active
  • Brodmanns area 39 is active

Sternbergs Propulsion Model of Creative
  • Replication
  • Redefinition
  • Forward Incrementation
  • Advance forward incrementation
  • Redirection
  • Reconstruction-redirection
  • Reinitiation
  • Integration