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Creativity understending innovation in problem solving science invention and the arts - Weisberg R.W.

Weisberg R.W. Creativity understending innovation in problem solving science invention and the arts - Wiley & sons , 2006. - 641 p.
ISBN-10: 0-471-73999-5
Download (direct link): understandinginnovation2006.pdf
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The remainder of this chapter will then present such an alternative view of insight in problem solving, one that builds on the cognitive-analytic perspective as developed in Chapters 3 and 4, which was summarized in Table 6.1. This view assumes that analytic methods—weak heuristic methods, analogical transfer, and strong methods based on expertise—are critical in solving all problems, and that the application of those methods to a problem can in certain circumstances result in restructuring and an Aha! experience. That is, contrary to the usual assumption that problem solving comes about either through analysis or through restructuring and insight, I will show that in a number of cases insight and restructuring come about as a result of analysis.
Insight and Experience: Knowledge and Insight in Kohler’s Chimps
Kohler (1925) concluded from his classic studies that restructuring and insight were brought about by perception-like processes and that those processes did not depend on the organism’s experience. The initial perception of the cube in Figure 6.3A, and its subsequent reversal, do not depend on experience; likewise, the perception of the solution to the Rake problem, for example, where an animal uses a stick to rake in an inaccessible piece of banana, is based on processes that do not depend on experience. In contrast, based on the cognitive-analytic perspective on problem solving, as outlined in Table 6.1, one might expect to see experience playing a critical role in
The Question of Insight in Problem Solving
situations in which animals and people exhibit insight. It is impossible to determine the role of experience in the insight displayed by Kohler’s animals, because most of his subjects were not raised from birth in the colony; they had been captured at various ages and brought to the colony. Therefore, there was no information available concerning the experiences they might have had before Kohler began working with them. A set of findings reported by Birch (1945) indicated that those experiences in the wild were critical in the “insightful” performances of Kohler’s animals.
Birch (1945) carried out an investigation of problem solving very similar to that of Kohler (1925), except that Birch’s animals were raised from birth in captivity, so he was able to control their experiences, especially their experiences handling sticks. Birch’s animals that had had no experience with sticks of any sort were not able to solve seemingly simple stick-use problems, even when the objects in the problem were organized in the optimal way. Birch examined Kohler’s Rake problem in one of his studies and confirmed that he had all the required elements organized correctly: The animal reaching for the food was able to see the stick extending outside the cage toward the desired food. However, even with that optimum setup of the problem, the animals did not achieve insight; that is, they did not use the stick to rake in the food. Birch tested five animals on the Rake problem. One animal, which had had some experience with sticks, immediately used the stick as a rake. However, three of Birch’s four naive animals never thought of using the stick to rake in the fruit. One naive animal did use the stick, but he first by accident pushed the stick while trying to reach the food, causing the stick to move the banana. This accidental discovery stimulated him to attempt to move the banana with the stick, and so he was eventually successful, but it came about by accident. Birch’s other naive animals could see no connection between the stick and getting the food.
After those failures on the Rake problem, Birch’s animals were returned to their home compound, and sticks were left in the compound by the experimenters. As the animals came across those new objects, they picked them up and began manipulating them, eventually using them as extensions of their arms to poke things. After several days of free play with the sticks, the Rake problem was presented again, and now all the animals quickly solved it. It thus seems that experience using sticks is necessary before an animal will have the insight of using a stick as a rake. Even so seemingly simple a problem as the Rake problem requires analysis that is beyond the capacities of a truly naive animal. The reason that the solution to the Rake problem seems so obvious to us (and to Kohler’s apes) may be because we have had extensive experience using sticks as an extension of our arms. That is, one could say that we have expertise here. These results raise questions about the
Creativity: Understanding Innovation
broadly negative conclusions drawn by the Gestalt psychologists concerning the role of experience in insight in problem solving. A classic study by Harlow (1949), which we will examine next, provides further evidence of the need for problem-specific experience in order to perform with insight even in seemingly simple situations.
Learning Sets and Insight: Positive Effects of Experience on Insight
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