Divergent Thinking Through Functional Fixedness, And Mental Sets

2265 Words Jun 28th, 2015 10 Pages
Divergent thinking through functional fixedness, and mental sets
Jorge Garcia
National University

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 tremendous obstacle to overcome, and is known as functional fixedness (Goldstein, 2010). Divergent thinking, which is closely associated with creativity and the ability to conjure a multitude of potential solutions, has been found useful in overcoming mental set along. Insight or known as the “aha!” moment is referred to as the point in which a problem solver breaks fixation. Duncker’s (1945) candle problem and Maier’s (1931) two-string problem are great examples in which participants experience insight when experiencing fixation. Additionally, The Representation Change Theory (RCT) by Kaplan and Simon (1990) and the Progress Monitoring theory attempt to provide understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that produce insight. Cognitive…
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