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Adaptation and analogical problem solving

Hunt, Stephen A.; (1997) Adaptation and analogical problem solving. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Analogical problem solving is the mapping of the conceptual structure of one set of ideas - the source knowledge domain - onto another set of ideas - the target knowledge domain. Mapping is composed of both the matching of elements - objects and their causal relations - in the source with elements in the target, and the transferring of further causal relations from the source to the target. The target domain is taken to constitute a problem, and the causal relations transferred a solution plan for that target problem This thesis examines adaptation and analogical problem solving, both how putative solutions are verified as being relevant or valid, and how putative solutions which fail to verify as valid are adapted to render them valid. Experiments 1- 5 are concerned with an analytic account of verification and adaptation. They are designed to determine what is necessary to both verify whether a solution plan is valid and to adapt a failed solution plan to render it valid. Experiments 6 - 9 are concerned with a behavioural account of adaptation. They are designed to determine how an individual actually adapts a failed solution plan to render it valid. The thesis indicates that verification can be characterised as the comparison of the solution plan against the constraints in the target problem. A solution plan is verified as valid if it satisfies the target problem's constraints. It is further argued that the subsequent adaptation of solution plans can be exhaustively accounted of as being the result of applying either an operation of deleting elements from the solution plan, an operation of adding elements to the solution plan, or a combination of these operations. These operations are applied to alter a solution plan so that it satisfies the target problem's constraints. Differences are identified in the ease of applying the operations of deleting and adding elements: applying the operation of deleting elements being easier than adding elements to adapt a solution plan. This difference results in a tendency to apply the operation of deleting elements rather than the operation of adding elements. This tendency, and the difference in the operation's ease of application are explained as the result of an individual's aim to expend minimal effort when carrying out analogical mapping, whereby individuals are disposed to map as few elements as are necessary to produce a valid solution. Hence individuals are already disposed to apply the operation of deleting elements. The aim to expend minimal effort is identified with a more general pragmatic reasoning constraint which results from people's limited processing capacities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Adaptation and analogical problem solving
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Adaptation; Analogical problem solving
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099531
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