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A generalization of the representational change theory from insight to non-insight problems: The case of arithmetic word problems
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 18:13 authored by Catherine Thevenot, Jane OakhillJane Oakhill
This paper provides evidence for a possible generalization of Knoblich and colleagues' representational change theory [Knoblich, G., Ohlsson, S., Haider, H., & Rhenius, D. (1999). Constraint relaxation and chunk decomposition in insight problem solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25, 1534-1555; Knoblich, G., Ohlsson, S., & Raney, G. E. (2001). An eye movement study of insight problem. Memory and Cognition, 29, 1000-1009] outside its original scope of application. While this theory has been proposed to explain insight problem solving, we demonstrate here that its main concepts, namely, constraint relaxation and chunk decomposition, are applicable to incremental problem solving. In a first experiment, we confirm, as already shown by problem solving and reasoning researchers, that individuals avoid the construction of alternative representations of the problems when possible. In the second and third experiments, we show that alternative representations of arithmetic problems are easier to construct and maintain when they violate constraints of narrow rather than wide scope. The specificity of insight problem solving is discussed in the light of these new findings. 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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