Bounded rationality and problem solving

The interpretative function of thought

Authored by: Laura Macchi , Maria Bagassi

Routledge Handbook of Bounded Rationality

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999381
eBook ISBN: 9781315658353
Adobe ISBN:


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Problem solving is an original contribution of psychology, a completely autonomous field of research and therefore unpolluted by any speculation or theories that can affect other consolidated areas of study. The most important contributions to problem solving were those of the Gestaltists in the 1920s and of Herbert Simon et al. 30 years later. This chapter examines them, highlighting the surprising assonances, but also the crucial differences, connected by the different type of difficulty of the problems studied. In the problems studied by Simon (the tasks problems), the difficulty lies in their intractability, i.e., the complexity of the calculations and the burdensome process necessary to reach the solution, given the basic characteristics of the human information-processing system (alias, the human problem solver). In the problems studied by the Gestaltists (the insight problems), on the other hand, the difficulty lies in one or more critical points, in a misunderstanding, so that the solution can be reached only by restructuring.

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