Divergent Thinking Through Functional Fixedness, And Mental Sets
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Divergent thinking through functional fixedness, and mental sets
Approaching and solving problems can be better understood through the study of mental sets, functional fixedness, and divergent thinking. According to Gestalt psychologists, mental sets originate from past experiences in how we solve problems. Methods that have been found successful in solution finding along with situations created during the process of solving the problem contribute to mental sets (Goldstein, 2010). Though mental sets can be useful in solving similar problems, not all problems are likely to be the same. Focusing on a sol solution, becoming fixated on specific characteristics of a problem can be a…show more content… Though mental sets can be useful in solving similar problems, not all problems are likely to be the same. Focusing on a sol solution, becoming fixated on specific characteristics of a problem can be a tremendous obstacle to overcome, and is known as functional fixedness (Goldstein, 2010).
Overcoming such obstacles require a release from this state of mental fixation. Divergent thinking, which is closely associated with creativity and the ability to conjure a multitude of potential solutions, can be enhanced through the use of analogical thinking. Analogical thinking or problem solving, being understood as the use of like problems solutions in guiding solutions of new problems (Goldstein, 2010). There are two basic processes with the understanding of problem solving, mental set being one and insight being the other.
Where mental set is problem solving by using prior experience, insight is referred to as the “aha!” moment in which a person suddenly realizes that the problem cannot be solved by conventional methods but by restructuring of the problem (Öllinger et al., 2008). A commonly used example that exhibits mental set, fixation and insight is Duncker’s (1945) candle problem. In this experiment participants were asked to create a ledge on a wall using a box of matches, a candle