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Experiment Author: Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
In this experiment, participants are asked how to produce a certain amount of liquid given three different sizes of measuring apparatus (water jugs). They are given several problems that fit a particular form (a-b+c, for instance), then some that can be solved more easily in another way. This produces an effect where participants use the solution method they are used to rather than the one that would be most efficient -- a phenomenon referred to as a "mental set" for a particular solution.
For this experiment, participants will figure out how to reach a target integer by combining three other numbers represented as liquid in jugs. The MainList object contains 11 trials along with all of the integers that appear during the experiment. The correct equations for each trial are also within MainList. Participants will enter the values in a prompt using the tab key to navigate and using the number pad to enter numbers into the required fields. InLineScript Objects are used to confirm correct answers and create a dialogue box that participants use to enter answers.
Luchins, A.S., & Luchins, E.H. (1950). New experimental attempts at preventing mechanization in problem solving. Journal of General Psychology, 42, 279-297
Cited Experiment Abstract
More than a decade ago we began a series of extensive investigations of the possible deleterious effects of habituated behavior (4, 5). We have been concerned with the blinding effects of habit, with what happens when a habit "ceases to be a tool discriminately applied but becomes a procrustean bed to which the situation must conform; when, in a word, instead of the individual mastering the habit, the habit masters the individual" (4, p.93) Specifically, our studies have dealt with the tendency to impute a procedure, repeated in a series of similar tasks, to subsequent problems which possess more direct solutions. This tendency toward mechanization has been taken as evidence of Einstellung ( or a special kind of mental set). Various experimental factors introduced to prevent an Einstellung from developing or to weaken it after it occurred, have on the whole bee quite ineffective. The present paper deals with some new experimental attempts to prevent or overcome this Einstellung tendency.
In order to facilitate understanding of the present experimental variations, we shall first briefly describe the original basic experiment upon which they are founded.
Works Cited by the Experiment
Hilgard, E.R. Theories of learning. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948.
Duncker, K. On problem-solving. Psychol. Monog., 1945, 58, No. 270, 1-113. (Translated by Lynne S. Lees.)
Katona, G. Organizing and memorizing. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1939.
Luchins, A.S. Mechanization in problem solving. Psychol. Monog., 1942, 54, No. 248, 1-95.
Luchins, A.S. Classroom experiments on mental set. Amer. J. Psychol., 1946, 59, 295-298.
Wetheimer, M. Productive thinking. New York: Harper, 1945.