Cognitive Problem Solving

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You know exactly what you're starting with and exactly how you wanna end up.

Ill-defined problems, on the other hand, have a more ambiguous starting and or ending point, such as how to live a happy life.

This interpretation can lead you to abandon your efforts, or perhaps just try less hard, if you encounter these early obstacles.

The factors just described are, of course, what the chapter discusses under the heading of stereotype threat.

Thus, when thinking about already-solved problems, you might ask yourself why exactly the solution gets the job done, and what this solution has in common with other problem solutions.

That perspective will better prepare you to use the current problem as a basis for a productive analogy at some later point.

Problems can be generally broken down into two categories; well-defined problems and ill-defined problems.

Well-defined problems have a clear starting and ending point, such as how to make it bright in a room that's currently dark.

In the chapter, we focused on how these factors influence groups (and so lead African Americans to underperform on intelligence tests and lead women to underperform on math tests).

But the same factors, and the same destructive dynamic, apply to individuals—and so many of us, guided by these expectations, do less well on intellectual tasks than we might. Research points the way toward several suggestions.


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