June 7, 2018
Posted by on
The Einstellung Effect is a cognitive phenomenon wherein an agent attempting to solve a problem fails to think outside the box, where the ‘box’ results from its previous experience solving problems.
More specifically, the agent working on a problem is predisposed to attempt solutions similar to those it’s had success with in the past — even though these may be sub-optimal or not viable solutions at all for the problem at hand — rather than go in with an “open mind” and experiment with other approaches. Previous experience is overly relied on or mistaken to be more useful than it is, so the area of the possible solution space the agent examines is narrow/specific to a fault.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, studies have implied the effect seems to increase with age in humans, which goes along with stereotypes of younger minds being more flexible and open to possibilities while older minds have a stronger tendency to “stay on the tracks”.
The Einstellung Effect is one of the obstacles to good problem-solving which can be effectively avoided in many cases by periodic reminders to the problem solver to simply take a step back and re-examine things.
December 27, 2016
Posted by on