Context Effects on Problem Solving

Kokinov, B. & Yoveva, M. (1996). Context effects on problem solving. In Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


Context effects on problem solving demonstrated so far in the literature are the result of systematic manipulation of some supposedly irrelevant to the solution elements of the problem description. Little attention has been paid to the role of casual entities in the environment which are not part of the problem description, but which might influence the problem solving process. The main purpose of the current paper is to avoid this limitation and to study the context effects (if any) caused by such accidental elements from the problem solver's environment and in this way to test the predictions made by the dynamic theory of context and its implementation in the DUAL cognitive architecture. Two experiments have been performed. In Experiment I the entities whose influence is being tested are part of the illustrations accompanying the target problem descriptions and therefore they belong to the core of the context, while in Experiment II the tested entities are part of the illustrations accompanying other problems' descriptions, they are accidental with respect to the target problem and therefore they possibly belong to the periphery of the context (if a context effect could be demonstrated at all). The results demonstrate both near and far context effects on problem solving caused by core (Experiment I) and peripheral elements (Experiment II) of the perception-induced context, respectively.

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