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What is insight?

The sudden discovery of the correct solution following incorrect attempts based on trial-&-error

The sudden emotional response/feeling of solving a problem, NOT the cognitive response


What view are Gestalt approaches to problem solving opposed to?

The behaviourist view of solving problems using trial-&-error learning


A problem can be restructured to reach a solution. What is this called?

"restructuring the problem space"


What does 'restructuring the problem space' require?

Requires insight/recognition that you method is not working
You must reconsider your previous assumptions & rethink the solutions
Requires previous failure


Kohler (1927) placed a chimpanzee in a room with bananas hanging out of reach. What happened?

The bananas moved a block to underneath the bananas & hit them down with a stick

--> they had insight to use tools to get the bananas


Did Kohler's (1927) chimpanzee solve the problem by insight?

Yes - no trial-&-error


Epstein et al. (1984) placed a pigeon in a box with food hanging out of reach. What happened?

The pigeon slowly moved the box to reach the food, getting off the box & moving the box closer multiple times when it realised it couldn't reach


Did Epstein et al.'s (1984) pigeon solve the problem by insight?

No - its behaviour was reinforced by trial-&-error (wasn't a sudden spark of insight)


What is functional fixedness?

When you fixate on an object's normal use & not on other alternative uses


Why might functional fixedness help you solve a problem?

If you view an object as having other uses, a problem can become easier


Who did the 'two-string problem'?

Maier (1931)


What did the 'two-string problem' involve?

2 strings hang from the ceiling, the pp has to tie the strings together but they are too far apart to hold at the same time


How do you solve the 'two-string problem'?

Pps are given pliers - they can tie them to one length of string to act as a weight to use as a pendulum
Can swing the string & catch it whilst holding the other string


Why can't most people solve the 'two-string problem'?

Most fixate on the plier's normal uses & not on alternative uses (= functional fixedness)


Why isn't the 'two-string problem' a good example of functional fixedness?

Because pps can't solve it


Who did the 'candle problem'?

Duncker (1945)


What did the 'candle problem' involve?

Pps must fix & light a candle on a wall so that it doesn’t drip onto the table below
They are given a candle, book of matches & a box of thumbtacks


How do you solve the 'candle problem'?

Empty the box, put the candle inside, use a thumbtack to nail the box with the candle in it to the wall & light the candle with a match


Why can't most people solve the 'candle problem'?

They only see the box as a device to hold thumbtacks, not as a separate component (= functional fixedness)


What do pps do when they are given an empty box with thumbtacks on the side in the 'candle problem'?

They are better at solving the problem --> view the box as a simple container & can imagine alternative uses for it


Why is the 'candle problem' a better experimenter than the 'two-string problem'?

There is a control group


What are set effects?

A type of functional fixedness

You become biased by your previous experiences to prefer certain approaches to a problem, which may block the solution in some cases (= einstellung effect)


Lunchins (1945) claims that the water jugs problem is not an insight study. Why is this?

Pps learn one way of solving the problem & then do not switch methods, even if it isn't the quickest/easier way to solve the problem


Do problems that depend on steps/procedures benefit from interruption? Why?

Problems that depend on steps/procedures don’t benefit from interruption --> people forget their plan & must review what they have previously done


Do problems that depend on insight benefit from interruption? Why?

Problems that depend on insight can benefit from interruption --> the interruption may break set effects; they don’t apply their ideas in the same way & will be able to solve the problem


What did Sio & Ormerod (2009) find about incubation effects?

- divergent thinking tasks benefit more from an interruption than linguistic/visual insight tasks = positive incubation effect

- filling the incubation period with highly cognitively-demanding tasks induces a smaller incubation effect

- filling the incubation period with less cognitively-demanding tasks shows a stronger incubation effect than resting during the incubation period (when solving linguistic insight problems)


Who did the 'cheap necklace problem'?

Silveira (1971)


What does the 'cheap necklace problem' involve?

Pps are given 4 separate pieces of chain (3 links long) - costs 2c to open a link, 3c to close a link

Goal = join all 12 links into a circle for less than 15c


How do pps solve the 'cheap necklace problem'?

Open all 3 links of one chain, then attach & close each link around the other chains to create a circle


Silveira (1971) gave pps no break vs. a 30-min break vs. a 4-hour break to solve the 'cheap necklace problem' - what did he find?

Pps given breaks did better than pps given no break