Theories Of Problem Solving

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Sanna has previously held positions at Bucknell University and Washington State University, and was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan.

Problem Solving and Decision Making: Consideration of Individual Differences Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator William G. Abstract Improving individuals' and groups' abilities to solve problems and make decisions is recognized as an important issue in education, industry, and government.

In contrast, decision making is a selection process where one of two or more possible solutions is chosen to reach a desired goal.

The steps in both problem solving and decision making are quite similar.

The recent transition to the information age has focused attention on the processes of problem solving and decision making and their improvement (e.g., Nickerson, Perkins, & Smith, 1985; Stice, 1987; Whimbey & Lochhead, 1982).

In fact, Gagne (1974, 1984) considers the strategies used in these processes to be a primary outcome of modern education.

In fact, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Most models of problem solving and decision making include at least four phases (e.g., Bransford & Stein, 1984; Dewey, 1933; Polya, 1971): 1) an Input phase in which a problem is perceived and an attempt is made to understand the situation or problem; 2) a Processing phase in which alternatives are generated and evaluated and a solution is selected; 3) an Output phase which includes planning for and implementing the solution; and 4) a Review phase in which the solution is evaluated and modifications are made, if necessary.

These steps will be discussed in greater detail later in this paper.

Consideration of Individual Differences Although there are a variety of ways to consider individual differences relative to problem solving and decision making, this paper will focus on personality type and temperament as measured by the MBTI.

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