THOG: The anatomy of a problem

ArticleinPsychological Research 41(1):79-90 · January 1979with24 Reads
Impact Factor: 2.47 · DOI: 10.1007/BF00309425


    Three experiments are reported on the attempts to solve a novel hypothetico-deductive problem. Its solution demands both the postulation of hypotheses about its structure and a combinatorial analysis upon the consequences of these hypotheses. The majority of subjects (students) failed to solve the problem because they argued from the properties of stimuli rather than from hypotheses about their conceptual status. The results suggest that a familiarity with the logical structure of the problem and the elicitation of appropriate hypotheses failed to correct this intuitive approach. These findings are discussed in relation to Piaget's theory of formal operations, and (very tentatively) in relation to habitual styles of thought.