Insight, Fixation and Incubation

This is one paper that I found very interesting because it tries to find a protocol behind problem solving. It tries to tell us how to think and what to do when there is a problem to be solved and also which method is better suited (sudden restructuring of the problem or incremental retrieval of problem specific solutions). As far as I can tell neither one is the one and only solution. The way people go about trying to solve a problem depends entirely upon oneself. Some may like to just go and tackle the problem head on. Such people may make mistakes before arriving at a solution (trial and error) while others may like to think about the problem a bit more and come up with a solution at one go because they came up with a carefully evaluated idea when thinking over the problem and then everything fell in together (insight). The Gestalt psychologists and Weisberg used experiments that were too biased towards proving their own point. Neither one could explain each others findings based on their own ideologies although the Gestalt psychologists did not explicitly try to prove that trial and error was the wrong protocol to follow.

As far as the concept of fixation went I was particularly interested in the experiments conducted by Smith, Ward and Schumacher where there was a group of people who were asked to design something some people in the group were shown design examples whereas the others were not and they were clearly able to show that when people had a concept in mind, they will readily use this concept where required but if they do not have the required concept in mind, they try to become more creative and use whatever little knowledge they have to its fullest. But I think that if we were to represent a concept, we need to have a certain idea as to what it is. If we don’t have a clue as to what we are trying to do, we will not be able to go anywhere. This would mean that when talk about fixation, we don’t forget concepts. They are there somewhere in our minds but is inaccessible at that moment (subconscious) but becomes accessible at some other moment (conscious). But according to me , being creative is not the same as being correct. If people have the wrong idea of a concept, then they will make mistakes when asked to represent the concept.


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