# Problem Solving: A Somewhat Tricky Task

As we all know as students here at the U, there are often many barriers to solving problems. From a difficult problem on a physics test to whether or not you should break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend you are constantly making decisions and solving problems. In these cases there are a handful of barriers that present themselves including salience of surface similarities, mental sets, and functional fixedness (p. 310). There are also a few other obstacles that may occur in problem solving including individual insecurity, past history, and jumping to conclusions. Attached is an image in which the objective is to connect all nine dots by only drawing four lines and without picking up the pencil. This is a classic example of how these barriers can come into play. Once you have solved the problem it may be easier to identify what the barriers are. For me, jumping to conclusions was a big obstacle in solving the problem. I figured that the lines I drew and to connect dot-to-dot as opposed to extending past the dots. This assumption made solving the problem much harder at first. Another barrier could be one's insecurity in solving problems involving logic and geometric arrangements. This could discourage them to even attempt the problem or cause them to give up quickly. There are many other obstacles that can occur with a problem such as this and everyone may experience different ones. It would be interesting to see how people's multiple intelligences (found in chapter 9) correlate with what barriers they have for solving problems.

I found this task interesting. I naturally only tried staring with a diagonal line. It never produced the right answer, therefore I got frustrated. I never thought that my method was wrong. Once I read the blog I noticed that my naturally wanted to do the same thing that I thought was going to work even though it did not. I could not think of anything new which made me realize I was displaying a mental set. This is a great example of how we can easily give way to getting stuck in a mental set.

When I first looked at this I realized I was experiencing mental set as well. I just assumed that what I was doing was correct just because it was how I approached similar problems, always starting with a diagonal line. It is interesting when you consider the similar thought processes that people use for completely different situations. I think that each person has their own way of approaching a problem and finding a solution, which creates different talents and careers suited for different people.

One a different note. I've always thought problem solving was the basis of peoples IQ. People have different levels of memory proficieny and what not, but when it really comes down to it I believe that peoples ability to look at problems in different ways and figure them out is the biggest contributing factor to peoples intelligence.