Dandurand, F., Shultz, T. R., & Onishi, K. H. (2007). Strategies, heuristics and biases in complex problem solving. In D. McNamara & G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 917-922). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.



How do instructions help people solving complex puzzles?  We studied a problem solving task (Which of the 12 balls is heavier or lighter than the rest?) using detailed analyses of problem solving steps to assess what cognitive biases, heuristics and strategies were used.  First, we found that all participants effectively used means-ends analysis. Second, in the absence of instructions or observation of successful solutions, participants preferred symmetrical and overly simple solution steps. Instructions and imitation effectively reduced these biases, which was important for correct solutions. Finally, instructions and imitation helped participants attend to less salient aspects of the task.


Copyright notice

Abstracts, papers, chapters, and other documents are posted on this site as an efficient way to distribute reprints. The respective authors and publishers of these works retain all of the copyrights to this material. Anyone copying, downloading, bookmarking, or printing any of these materials agrees to comply with all of the copyright terms. Other than having an electronic or printed copy for fair personal use, none of these works may be reposted, reprinted, or redistributed without the explicit permission of the relevant copyright holders.


To obtain a PDF reprint of this particular article, signal your agreement with these copyright terms by clicking on the statement below.


I agree with all of these copyright terms PDF 277KB