What Is Problem Solving



The term problem-solving is used in many disciplines, at times with different perspectives, and / or with different terminologies. Problems can also be classified into two different types (ill-defined and well-defined) from which appropriate solutions are to be reached. Ill-defined problems are those that do not have clear goals, solution paths, or expected solution.

Well-defined problems have specific goals, clearly defined solution paths, and clear expected solutions. These problems also allow for more initial planning than ill-defined problems. Being able to solve problems sometimes involves dealing with pragmatics logic and semantics interpretation of the problem.

The ability to understand the crux of the problem is and what rules could be applied represent he key to solving the problem. Sometimes the problem requires some abstract thinking and coming up with a creative solution.

Problem Solving Strategies


Problem-solving strategies are the steps that one would use to find the problem(s) that are in the way to getting to one's own goal.

In this cycle one will recognize the problem, define the problem, develop a strategy to fix the problem, organize the knowledge of the problem cycle, figure-out the resources at the user's disposal, monitor one's progress, and evaluate the solution for accuracy. The reason it is called a cycle is that one problem follows another.

We look at problem solving from one of two facets. The first is looking at those problems that only have one solution (like mathematical problems, or fact-based questions), which are grounded in psychometric intelligence.

The other is socio-emotional in nature and are unpredictable with answers that are constantly changing (like what's your favorite color or what gift to give to someone for Christmas).


Common barriers to problem solving are mental constraints that impede our ability to correctly solve problems. These barriers prevent people from solving problems in the most efficient manner possible.

Five of the most common processes and factors that researchers have identified as barriers to problem solving are:

1. Confirmation Bias


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According to this theory, one is able to most accurately find a solution to a perceived problem. The scientific method is not a process that is limited to scientists, but rather it is one that all people can practice in their respective field of work as well as in their personal lives. It can be described as one's unconscious or unintentional corruption of the scientific method. When one demonstrates a confirmation bias, he or she is formally or informally collecting data, and then subsequently observing and experimenting with that data in such a way that favors a preconceived notion that may or may not have a motivation.

2. Mental Set


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describes one's inclination to attempt to solve problems in such a way that has proved successful in previous experiences. Such methods for finding a solution that have worked in the past may not be adequate or optimal for certain new but similar problems. Therefore, it is often necessary for people to move beyond their mental sets in order to find solutions.

3. Functional Fixedness


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 Limits the ability for people to solve problems accurately because a narrow way of thinking.  This could be intentional or unintentional. In all likelihood it is unintentional.

4. Unnecessary Constraints


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This particular phenomenon occurs when the subject trying to solve the problem, subconsciously places boundaries on the task at hand. Such a situation demands that he be more innovative in his/her thinking. The person trying to solve the problem hits a barrier when he/she is fixated on only one way to approach the problem. This poses further problems.

5. Irrelevant Information


Steps To Solve Your Problems

Is information presented within a problem that is unrelated or unimportant to the specific problem.  It is a common barrier that many people have trouble getting through, especially if they are not aware of it. Irrelevant information makes solving otherwise relatively simple problems harder.

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