Problem Solving &amp; Creativity

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Problem Solving &amp; Creativity. Dr. Claudia J. Stanny EXP 4507 Memory &amp; Cognition Spring 2009. Overview. Representing problems Strategies for solving problems Expertise and problem solving Impediments to solving problems Creativity. What is a Problem?.

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Problem Solving & Creativity

Dr. Claudia J. Stanny

EXP 4507

Memory & Cognition

Spring 2009

Overview
• Representing problems
• Strategies for solving problems
• Expertise and problem solving
• Impediments to solving problems
• Creativity

Claudia J. Stanny

What is a Problem?
• Discrepancy between the current situation and a desired situation
• Initial state
• Goal State
• Obstacles that make transition between states difficult
• Problem solving entails:
• Accurately representing the problem
• Discovering procedures to eliminate obstacles

Claudia J. Stanny

Types of Problems
• Well-defined problems
• Can identify or describe a “correct” solution
• May be established algorithms for arriving at a solution
• Ill-defined problems
• A single “correct” solution may not be known
• Difficult to evaluate the quality of multiple potential solutions
• Procedures for solving the problem may be unknown

Claudia J. Stanny

Representing Problems
• Different problems must be represented differently to achieve a solution
• Need to discover and use the most appropriate method for representing problems of a given type
• Symbols
• Matrices
• Diagrams
• Visual images

Claudia J. Stanny

Probability Tree Diagram

Claudia J. Stanny

Problem-Solving Strategies
• Algorithms
• Heuristics
• Mean-ends analysis
• Hill-climbing heuristic
• Analogies

Claudia J. Stanny

Mean-Ends Analysis
• General Problem Solver (Newell & Simon)
• Problem space
• Beginning/Current state
• Goal state
• Operations available to modify the current state
• Problems are defined as a difference between the current state and the goal state
• Solution may require setting sub-goals
• Select operations that reduce the difference between the current state and the goal state

Claudia J. Stanny

Hill-Climbing Heuristic
• At each choice point, select the operation or procedure that moves you closer to the goal state
• Problem:

Sometimes the solution requires temporarily moving away from the goal state

Claudia J. Stanny

Backward Reasoning
• Reverse the process in means-ends analysis
• Consider the operations needed to make the goal state look more like the current state
• Helps in establishing important subgoals for means-ends analysis
• May help identify important operations that are not obvious when using forward reasoning

Claudia J. Stanny

Reasoning by Analogy
• Use a known system to serve as a model for the current problem
• Basis for the analogy
• Surface features of the problem and the model are similar
• Structural features of the problem and the model are similar
• We discover useful solutions more often when the analogy is based on similar structural features

Claudia J. Stanny

Problem Solving by Experts and Novices
• How details about the problem are perceived
• Memory for details about the problem
• Experts recognize important structural characteristics of problems
• Experts rely more frequently on forward reasoning
• Proceduralization of reasoning strategies
• Differences between experts and novices are domain-specific rather than general

Claudia J. Stanny

Mental Set
• Bias to adopt the strategy, procedure or interpretation that was used with previous problems
• Make assumptions that are not justified and that interfere with solution to the problem
• Functional Fixedness: Focus on typical uses for objects rather than novel uses that will enable solving the problem

Claudia J. Stanny

Luchins Water Jug Problem
• Jar A 20; Jar B 5; Jar C 130 – Need 100
• Jar A 12; Jar B 3; Jar C 108 – Need 90
• Jar A 6; Jar B 1; Jar C 28 – Need 20
• Jar A 6; Jar B 4; Jar C 44 – Need 30
• Jar A 10; Jar B 5; Jar C 30 – Need 15

Claudia J. Stanny

Functional Fixedness
• Failure to recognize multiple uses of objects typically used for other purposes
• Duncker (1945) candle problem
• Identify 10 uses for this object:

Claudia J. Stanny

What is Creativity?
• Creativity is frequently defined in terms of the characteristics of creative products:
• Solutions to problems
• Artistic creations
• Characteristics of creative solutions & ideas
• Novel
• High quality
• Useful
• Appropriate to context

Claudia J. Stanny

Creativity
• Mechanisms for creative thought
• Role of special processes such as incubation
• Ordinary cognitive processes also contribute to creative results
• Directed remembering – conscious retrieval of information under constraints
• Noticing – attention to errors during edits/revisions
• Flexibility – recognizing and categorizing objects in multiple ways
• Thinker is motivated to search extensively for information that meets criteria of novelty
• Evaluate potential solution or new idea
• Will it solve the problem?
• Will it create undesirable outcomes?

Claudia J. Stanny

Measuring Aptitude for Creativity
• Divergent Thinking Approach (Guilford)
• Focus on ability to generate multiple and varied responses to a single prompt
• Investment Theory of Creativity (Sternberg)
• Produce a new idea when no one else is interested (“buy low”)
• When idea becomes popular (“sell high”), move on to a new project
• Focus on characteristics of creative individuals and the environments that support them

Claudia J. Stanny

Remote Associates Test

Assumes creativity requires discovering new relations between concepts.

Find a single word that is related to all three of the following words:

Claudia J. Stanny

Attributes that Promote Creativity
• Characteristics of the individual:
• Intelligence
• Knowledge (expertise in area of creativity)
• Motivation
• Appropriate thinking style
• Appropriate personality
• Characteristics of the environment
• Encouraging environment

Claudia J. Stanny

Factors that Influence Creativity
• Intrinsic motivation
• High intrinsic motivation is associated with higher levels of creativity
• Greater persistence at tasks required to generate multiple solutions and struggle with obstacles
• Extrinsic motivation
• Extrinsic motivational pressures such as formal evaluations & offers of rewards reduce the quality of creative products generated (especially if the reward system limits options)
• Useful for ensuring people meet deadlines

Claudia J. Stanny