Cognitive processing in problem solving : Unravelling the science of effective solutions

Team IIBP Anveshan, Business Psychology, Development Centers, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Selection, General Psychology, Issue 38, Volume 4

Ms Priya Soni

Problem solving as the name implies is the ability of an individual to overcome any challenges faced in life. It can be as small as putting a thread in a needle or as complex as dealing with international issues. Problem solving, the pinnacle of cognitive endeavours, is the process of identifying and formulating solutions to hurdles that obstruct the path to a desired goal.

To solve a problem we have to first understand the

the situation, then identify the issue, then think about the probable solutions and finally decide upon the solution to help out of that situation. All these processes involved during problem-solving are the cognitive processes.

According to Gestalt theorists, problem solving involves restructuring and reorganising the elements of problems in such a way that it provides you with solutions. The information processing approach is also a very important criterion for problem-solving. When we process the information and understand then we find the solution for it. We all face problems in our day-to-day lives. In order to deal with it, we also do some trial and error and while making a judgement for an effective solution to any problem, we do use our previous knowledge and experience.

To have an effective solution for such a problem we use all our consciousness in it. To finally reach an effective solution every aspect of our cognition is used. Strangely our brain takes so much effort but we do not realise it. The science behind the use of cognitions in problem-solving is not only about the efforts that we do put into finding out

solutions but also about the issues, which we face while trying or making efforts to solve a problem. It involves pragmatics and semantics. We also use algorithms and heuristics to find an effective solution.

Problem-solving activities can be improved with practice. Many people challenge themselves with

this practice by solving puzzles and playing games which require the use of cognitive processes such as chess etc. Also when trying to solve a problem one needs to find out various ways to find the solutions and not repeating the same strategy again and again as it will not give you any result.

It is known as functional fixedness which means a mental set where you can not think of using that

object for anything else other than what it is used for. It is one of the setbacks of problem-solving.

Altogether problem solving is one of the cognitive processes which in itself requires a lot of

information processing.