Act first, think later: the presence and absence of inferential planning in problem solving

Ormerod, Thomas C, MacGregor, James N, Chronicle, Edward P, Dewald, Andrew D and Chu, Yun (2013) Act first, think later: the presence and absence of inferential planning in problem solving. Memory and Cognition, 41 (7). pp. 1096-1108. ISSN 0090-502X

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Abstract

Planning is fundamental to successful problem solving, yet individuals sometimes fail to plan even one step ahead when it lies within their competence to do so. In this article, we report two experiments in which we explored variants of a ball-weighing puzzle, a problem that has only two steps, yet nonetheless yields performance consistent with a failure to plan. The results fit a computational model in which a solver's attempts are determined by two heuristics: maximization of the apparent progress made toward the problem goal and minimization of the problem space in which attempts are sought. The effectiveness of these heuristics was determined by lookahead, defined operationally as the number of steps evaluated in a planned move. Where move outcomes cannot be visualized but must be inferred, planning is constrained to the point where some individuals apply zero lookahead, which with n-ball problems yields seemingly irrational unequal weighs. Applying general-purpose heuristics with or without lookahead accounts for a range of rational and irrational phenomena found with insight and noninsight problems.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2015 11:04
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 08:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/55304

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