Overcoming Functional Fixedness Through Categorical Generalization

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Overcoming Functional Fixedness Through Categorical Generalization Jasper Louie SID#24379820 Cognitive Science C100/Psychology C120 Discussion Section #104, Thursday, 12-1pm in Tolman 2304 Abstract Functional fixedness is a classic creative problem solving situation in which people overlook a potential usage for a tool because they already have one in mind. Since it was introduced in an experiment conducted by Duncker (1945), there have been many studies about overcoming functional fixedness. This experiment will examine a theory in which having subjects think of superordinate categories for items allows them to think of novel usages for these items. The decomposition of a tool may help the subject’s ability to…show more content…
Hypothesis 1 My first hypothesis states that having a generic categorical understanding of the tools at hand would increase the likelihood that a subject can complete a functional fixedness problem. This is because basic categories can help the subjects realize uses for the tool other than its primary use. In this experiment, one group of subjects will follow a procedure called the Generic Parts Technique (GPT) (Mccaffrey, 2012). It is used to break down an object into its most basic components and qualities. The first step is to write the name of a tool, then ask “Can this be broken into components?” If yes, the subject makes branches off the current part for each of the subcomponents. Once this is no longer possible, he asks “Does this description imply a use?” If so, the participant should create a more generic description based on material and shape. He repeats these steps until no longer possible. If a greater percentage of subjects in the GPT group are able to overcome functional fixedness than those in the control group, this hypothesis would be supported. Hypothesis 2 The second hypothesis theorizes that having a more generic categorical understanding of a tool and its parts will decrease or have no effect on the likelihood that a subject can solve a functional fixedness problem. This hypothesis would be
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