What Is Problem Solving And Why It Matters

What is Problem-Solving?

Based on Merriam-Webster’s definition, problem-solving is “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.”

Problems can arise anywhere at any time and encompassing the ability to solve these problems quickly and well is a key life skill. 

Regardless of who you are and what you do, making decisions and solving problems is something we do on a daily basis, without even realising it. 

My train has been canceled, how do I get to work?

What gift do I buy for my partner’s birthday?

What to make for dinner tonight? 

Are all examples of small daily problems we face. Problems can vary, they can be small or big, complex or miniscule, but knowing how to fix them can be good for your cognitive development, life and career. 

There are of course, some ways you can enhance your problem-solving skills and we will be exploring those in today’s post.

The Problem-Solving Process 

Like with most thing,  there is a process of problem-solving and it goes a little something like this:

Step 1: Identify what the problem is

Step 2 : Understanding the reasons for this problem arising 

Step 3: Come up with some ideas to solve the problem 

Step 4: Pick the best solution.

If problem-solving is not typically your forte or it’s something you struggle with, then this process will help to build your abilities. 

Brain Training

In the Peak app we have a whole host of games that challenge and build your problem-solving skills. 

One example is the game Connect ‘Em Up which was made in collaboration with Prof. Wei Ji Ma and Bas Van Opheusden at NYU. They’re currently researching how and what affects our decision making. 

Their paper A computational model for decision tree search, looks into the “computational models of human behaviour in a challenging variant of tic-tac-toe, to investigate the cognitive processes underlying sequential planning.” 

Through a computational model that predicts people’s choices, researchers are testing whether the computational model can accurately predict a person’s decision and decision making process. 

Connect ‘Em Up helps you to train your quantitative reasoning skills, arithmetic, working memory and is helping Professor Wei Ji Ma and Bas Van Opheusden with their research further into the computational process behind our decision making process. 

Construal-Level Theory (CLT)

CLT has been around for some time now and refers to psychological distance. 

Essentially, the construal level theory encourages us to mentally distance ourselves from the problem we are experiencing. 

Scientific American notes “psychological distance affects the way we mentally represent things, so that distant things are represented in a relatively abstract way while psychologically near things seem more concrete.”

Scientists suggest distancing can help to enable creative thinking. This is due to the abstract thinking which allows us to establish connections we may not have previously identified. 

Ultimately, problem-solving skills are a vital part of our daily lives and impact our decision making. By sharpening our skill sets and challenging our cognitive abilities we can ensure we are making the best decisions in both our personal and professional life. Problem-solving matters for a number of reasons, not just for your work and life but your cognitive development also. 

Sources Cited: 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/an-easy-way-to-increase-c/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/problem-solving

https://www.cns.nyu.edu/malab/static/files/publications/2017%20Van%20Opheusden%20Galbiati%20Bnaya%20Li%20Ma.pdf

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_00.htm

Sajal Azam

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