Oh my gosh! Why I cannot make it out!

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Last week, when I was preparing my psychology midterm, my roommate asked me a mathematic problem which was from GMT. To be honest, at the first sight of it, I did not think that it is difficult because it seemed familiar to me. However, when I started tackling with it, I realized that it is way difficult than I thought it would be. Because the methods I used to use for these kinds of problems did not work this time. I felt not only upset, but also afflictive as I nearly reached the correct answer. At first, I thought that maybe I make some miscalculation, so I cannot work out the correct answer, but after recalculating it for several times using the same method, I realized that the method I use maybe wrong. I think what I met with that day was mental sets. It is apparently that I was stuck in a specific problem-solving strategy and could not come up with a new one. As a matter of fact, I was stuck in the same phenomenon for many times when I was at middle school and high school. And I believe that everyone had met with it in their lifetime, too. Sometimes, it is a little difficult for our brain to get rid of the pattern that we assumed already. But once we try to think in another angle, it would be easier for us to solve the problems in our daily life.


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Yes, I very agree with you. I have the same experience like yours. We often use a fixed way of thinking to deal with new problems. Fixed way of thinking makes us feel easy.We often overlook to find new methods. For example, a house surrounded by four windows, a window scenery on behalf of all.Surrounded by windows has a different landscape.A different perspective of the world, you will find a different landscape.

I do have to agree with you, that we tend to stick to our "old ways" of solving problems even if it keeps on giving us the wrong answer to the problem. I believe that it has to do for various reasons such as not being able to learn multiple ways to solve similar problems because we stick to the first way we learned, we don't want to admit that our way of solving a problem is wrong or incorrect, and we like to find the solution in the least amount of steps possible We like to blame our inability to solve it on the problem and not our minds being stuck in a specific mind set.
The comment above illustrating the window idea to solving a problem, makes it very clear to understand how to get out of a mental set. Thanks for that!

Honestly, this is the story of my life in calculus last semester. I think we've all had that feeling. What i have found to be effective when you find yourself stuck in a mental set is to do any other problems that you can. Especially in math, most problems build off of the same concepts just in a variety of different ways. So, by doing other problems, you may find that the steps in another problem can help remind you how to solve the previous problem by expanding your thinking.

Story of everyone's life mcqu0123 who is in calculus! I think in math, the number of mental sets we learn is enormous so it is easy for us to get caught in the easiest/most readily available problem solving math that comes to mind. Also what I think is deceptive about many math problems is only having one thought process to solve them and if you don't think of that one your SOL where other problems in life have many answers and even more ways of going about them with still an completion of said problem.

I had the same feeling about calculus as well! I think the chaining angle thinking way is not only use on the problem solving, it actually will help us dealing with some relationship problems as well. Like we have fight with friends, we think someone is bad, however, when we change our thinking into another angle, we will find out that the mind been changed, even the person is bad, it will still have personality you like. Just no matter deal with what problem, use multi direction thinking problems will help you a lot.

I have definitely been in your shoes before. Mental sets can be a huge problem for some people, including myself. I have had multiple experiences when I cannot figure out a problem because I try using previous knowledge and experience to figure it out, but just doesn't work out. I especially found it very difficult adjusting my study habits coming into college from high school. Mental sets can be a minor road block, but I think they are necessary for us so we are given a reason why we should look at something a different way.

I fall prey to using mental sets quite often and it is very frustrating. It is difficult to think outside of the box and see problems in a different manner and work out alternate approaches. I think a lot of it has to do with humans being "cognitive misers" and using heuristics to explain and figure out our problems. Do you know of any techniques that are helpful to get out of the mental sets? From now on I will just try to look at problems a few different ways to broaden my problem solving angles to come to answers.

Mental sets are definitely an everyday problem for me. Whether it be figuring out the shortest route to class, working on homework, or anything in general that can be routine like. Mental sets can be both good and bad. They can help you when it comes to streamlining your thinking and not wasting time trying to re-figure out something you already know. But, as you've shown they can be frustrating.

I have experienced that feeling a lot. When you think you know how to do something and it doesn't work out it can be very frustrating. We just need to have an open mind about things and we have to be open to other possible solutions.

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This page contains a single entry by chen2508 published on March 26, 2012 1:07 AM.

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