Psychology: Thinking and Problem Solving: Concepts and Reasoning

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Thinking is a complex mental process which involves manipulation of information. Thinking is a constructive process in the sense that it helps us to form a new representation of any object or event by transforming available information. It involves a number of mental activities, such as inferring, abstracting, reasoning, imagining, judging, problem solving, and creative thinking.

Thinking relies on a variety of mental structures such as concepts and reasoning.


Concepts are mental structures which allow us to organize knowledge in systematic ways. They also represent properties, abstraction and relations.


It is a process that involves inference. Reasoning is used in logical thinking and problem solving. There are two types of reasoning: deductive and inductive. In deductive reasoning we try to deduce or draw conclusion from a set of initial assertions or premises; whereas in inductive reasoning we start from available evidence to generate a conclusion about the likelihood of something.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is directed thinking focused towards dealing with specific problem. Problem solving has three elements: the problem, the goal and the steps to reach the goal. The two most techniques of problem solving are algorithm, mean end analysis and heuristics. Mean end analysis is a specific step-by- step procedure which is followed for solving certain types of problem. Heuristics is possible rule or ideas to reach the solution.

Problem Solving and Mental Set

A mental set is a tendency on the part of an individual to respond to a new problem in the same manner that he or she has used earlier to solve a problem.

Previous success with a particular rule produces a kind of mental rigidity/ fixedness/set, which hinders the process of generating new ideas to solve a new problem.

Creativity and Its Role in Life

Creativity is a particular kind of thinking which involves reaching out to the solution of a problem in a unique and novel way which was nonexistent earlier.

Stages of Creativity

Graham Wallas stated that there are five stages of creative thinking.

Stages of Creativity

Stages of Creativity

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  • Preparation: This is the first stage in which the thinker formulates the problem and collects facts and materials necessary for the solution.

  • Incubation: The second stage of creativity is a stage of no solution and number of cognitive complexities.

  • Illumination: In this stage in which insight about the possible solution. Illumination occurs with aha experience

  • Evaluation: In this stage the solution is verified and tested.

  • Revision: This occurs when the solution is not satisfactory.

Decision Making

  • Decision making: Decision making is a kind of problem solving in which we select an appropriate alternative out of a number of alternatives available to us.

  • Judgment: Judgment is a process of forming opinions, arriving at conclusions and making critical evaluations about objects, events and people on the basis of available information.