Thinking - Solutions

 CBSE Class 11 Pyschology

NCERT Solutions

1. Explain the nature of thinking.

Ans. Thinking is the base of all cognitive activities or processes and is unique to human beings. It involves manipulation and analysis of information received from the environment. For example, while seeing a painting, you are not simply focusing on the colour of the painting or the lines and strokes, rather you are going beyond the given text in interpreting its meaning and you are trying to relate the information to your existing knowledge. Understanding of the painting involves creation of new meaning that is added to your knowledge. Thinking, therefore, is a higher mental process through which we manipulate and analyse the acquired or existing information. Such manipulation and analysis occur by means of abstracting, reasoning, imagining, problem solving, judging, and decision-making. Thinking is an internal mental process, which can be inferred from overt behaviour. 

The following are the main features of thinking:

Building blocks of thought

Thinking relies on knowledge we already possess. Such knowledge is represented either in the form of mental images or concepts. Mental image refers to an image is a mental representation of a sensory experience; it can be used to think about things, places, and events. Whenever we come across an object or event familiar or unfamiliar, we try to identify the object or event by extracting its characteristics, matching it with the already existing category of objects and events. A concept thus, is a mental representation of a category. It refers to a class of objects, ideas or events that share common properties. Concept formation helps us in organising our knowledge so that whenever we need to access our knowledge, we can do it with less time and effort.  For making our thought process quick and efficient, we form concepts and categorise objects and events. 

2. What is a concept? Explain the role of concept in the thinking process.

Ans. A concept is a mental representation of a category. It refers to a class of objects, ideas or events that share common properties. Concept plays an important role in the thinking process. For making our thought process quick and efficient, we form concepts and categorise objects and events.

  • They may be organised in schema which provide the mental frameworks representing our knowledeg and assumptions about the world.
  • Concepts allows us to organise our knowledge in systematic ways. Thus, concepts are like building blocks of thinking.
  • Concept formation is a basic task of thinking i.e., identifying the stimulus properties that are common to a class of objects or ideas. e.g., in the activity, the participant has to classify the stimuli either on the basis of colour or shape. It is very helpful in the thinking process. 

3. Identify obstacles that one may encounter in problem solving.

Ans. Problem solving is thinking that is goal-directed. Almost all our day-to- day activities are directed towards a goal. Problems are not always in the form of obstacles or hurdles that one faces. It could be any simple activity that you perform to reach a defined goal, for example, preparing a quick snack for your friend who has just arrived at your place.

In problem solving there is an initial state (i.e. the problem) and there is an end state (the goal). These two anchors are connected by means of several steps or mental operations. The various steps through which one solves a problem are:

  1. Identify the problem 
  2. Represent the problem 
  3. Plan the solution: Set sub-goals 
  4. Evaluate all solutions (plays) 
  5. Select one solution and execute it
  6.  Evaluate the outcome 
  7. Rethink and redefine problems and solutions 
    There are two major obstacles to solving a problem.

There are two major obstacles to problem solving that one may encounter:

Mental set

Mental set is a tendency of a person to solve problems by following already tried mental operations or steps. Prior success with a experienced this while solving mathematical problems. After completing a couple of questions, you form an idea of the steps that are required to solve these questions and subsequently you go on following the same steps, until a point where you fail. At this point you may experience difficulty in avoiding the already used steps. Those steps would interfere in your thought for new strategies. However, in day-to-day activities we often rely on past experiences with similar or related problems.

Like mental set, functional fixedness in problem solving occurs when people fail to solve a problem because they are fixed on a thing’s usual function. If you have ever used a hardbound book to hammer a nail, then you have overcome functional fixedness.

Lack of Motivation

People might be great at solving problems, but all their skills and talents are of no use if they are not motivated. Sometimes people give up easily when they encounter a problem or failure in implementing the first step. Therefore, there is a need to persist in their effort to find a solution.  

4. How does reasoning help in solving problems? 
 Reasoning is the process of gathering and analysing information to arrive at conclusions. In this sense, reasoning is also a form of problem solving. The goal is to determine what conclusion can be drawn from certain given information. 

The kind of reasoning that begins with an assumption is called deductive reasoning. Reasoning, that is based on specific facts and observation, is called inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is drawing a general conclusion based on particular observation. Analogy is another form of reasoning which involves four parts, A is to B as C is to D with the relation between the first two parts being the same as the relation between the last two. 

Analogies can be helpful in solving problems. They help us in identifying and visualising the salient attributes of an object or event, which would otherwise go unnoticed. 

5. Are judgement and decision-making interrelated processes? Explain.

Ans. Judgement and decision-making are interrelated processes. In judgment we draw conclusions, form opinions, evaluate events, objects, based on knowledge and available evidences. Sometimes judgments are automatic and require no conscious effort by the person and occur as a matter of habit, for example, applying brakes on seeing the red light. However, evaluating a novel or a literary text requires reference to your past knowledge and experience.  Judging the beauty of a painting would involve your personal preferences. Thus our judgments are not independent of our beliefs and attitudes.  

On the other hand, in decision-making, we sometimes choose among options based on choices of personal significance. In decision- making the problem before us is to choose among alternatives by evaluating the cost and benefit associated with each alternative. Decision-making differs from other types of problem solving. In decision- making we already know the various solutions or choices and one has to be selected.  

6. Why is divergent thinking important in creative thinking process? 

Ans. Divergent thinking is important in creative thinking process. It's abilities facilitate generation of a variety of ideas which may not seem to be related. 
Fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration are the abilities of divergent thinking. 

  • Fluency : produces many ideas for a given task or a problem. The more ideas a person produces, the higher his fluency ability. 
  • Flexibility: indicates variety in thinking. It may be thinking of different uses of an object, or different interpretation of a picture, story or different ways of solving a problem. 
  • Originality : ability to produce ideas that are rare or unusual by seeing new relationship, combining old ideas with new ones, looking at things from different prospective. 
  • Elaboration : ability that enables a person to go into details and workout implications of new ideas. 

- Divergent thinking ability facilitate generations of a variety of ideas which may not seem to be related. 
- Divergent thinking is essential in generating a wide range of ideas. 
Convergent thinking is important to identify the most useful or appropriate idea. 

7. What are the various barriers to creative thinking? 

Ans. The first step in developing creative thinking is to identify inhibiting factors that impede creative expression and then make conscious attempts to overcome the same. However, there are blocks to creative thinking which can be categorised as habitual, perceptual, motivational, emotional, and cultural.

Although much habitual learning is necessary for smooth and efficient functioning within the daily routine, the tendency to be overpowered by habits particularly in one’s ways of thinking can be detrimental to creative expression. We become so used to thinking and perceiving things in a familiar way that it becomes difficult to think in novel ways.

It may be related to our tendency to quickly jump to conclusions, not to see problems from fresh perspectives, be satisfied with routine patterns of doing things, or resist to overcome pre- conceived view points, and not to change immediate judgment, etc. The perceptual blocks prevent us from being open to novel and original ideas. 

Motivational and emotional blocks also interfere with creative thinking which show that creative thinking is not merely a cognitive process. Lack of motivation, fear of failure, fear of being different, fear of ridicule or rejection, poor self-concept, negativism, etc. may hamper creative thinking. For example, some people may not be motivated enough to extend themselves and make extra efforts. A person may find that s/he can not do it further, may leave the problem in between or may accept the intermediate idea as the final idea. Further, some people, for example, have negative assumptions about themselves. They feel that they are not capable of doing some tasks. You may be surprised to know that Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the bulb, took years of experimentation with hundreds of failures before he produced the first bulb.

Cultural barriers are related to excessive adherence to traditions, expectations, conformity pressures, and stereotypes. Conformity to some extent is essential for social existence but excessive conformity to traditions, rituals, and procedures are likely appropriateness of ideas or solutions are tested and judged. Here, convergent thinking plays its role in selecting the appropriate idea or solution that works. 

8. How can creative thinking be enhanced ?

Ans. Research on characteristics of creative people has revealed that there are certain attitudes, dispositions, and skills which facilitate creative thinking. Here are some strategies to help you enhance your creative thinking abilities and skills:

  • Become more aware and sensitive to be able to notice and respond to feelings, sights, sounds, textures around you. Spot problems, missing information, anomalies, gaps, deficiencies, and so on. Try to notice contradictions and incompleteness in situations that others may not do. For this, cultivate the habit of wider reading, exposure to a variety of information, and develop the art of asking questions, pondering over the mysteries of situations and objects.

  • Generate as many ideas, responses, solutions or suggestions on a given task or situation to increase your flow of thoughts. Try deliberately to look for multiple angles of a task and situation to increase flexibility in your thinking. It could be, for example, thinking of alternative arrangements of furniture in a room to generate more space, different ways of conversing with people, looking for costs and benefits of a course of study or career, looking for ways of dealing with an angry friend, helping others, etc.

  • Osborn’s Brainstorming technique can be used to increase fluency and flexibility of ideas to open-ended situations. Brainstorming is based on the principle that producing ideas should be kept separate from the evaluation of their worth. The basic assumption is to let the minds think freely and the tendency to put judgement on the worth of ideas may be postponed, i.e. imagination should be given priority over judgement till all the ideas are exhausted. This helps in increasing the fluency of ideas and piling up alternatives. Brainstorming can be practised by playing brainstorming games with family members and friends keeping its principles in mind. Use of checklists and questions often provide a new twist for ideas like, What other changes? What else? In how many ways could it be done? What could be the other uses of this object? and so on.

  • Originality can be developed by practising fluency, flexibility, habit of associative thinking, exploring linkages, and fusing distinct or remote ideas. A creative thinker, it is said, may not evolve new ideas but evolve new combination of ideas. It is the chain of thoughts and cross-fertilisation of ideas that may bring out something new. The idea of the ‘rocking chair’ has come from the combination of ‘chair’ and ‘see- saw’. Practice making unusual and unexpected associations using analogies. Sometimes finding original ideas/solutions requires a dramatic shift of focus which can be facilitated by asking oneself : what is the opposite of the commonplace or usual solution to the problem? Allow conflicting thoughts to co-exist. Looking for solutions opposite to the obvious may lead to original solutions.

  • Engage yourself more frequently in activities which require use of imagination and original thinking rather than routine work according to your interest and hobbies. It may be decorating the house, improvising or redesigning of old objects, making use of waste products in multiple ways, completing incomplete ideas in unique ways, giving new twist to stories or poems, developing riddles, puzzles, solving mysteries and so on. 

  • Never accept the first idea or solution. Many ideas die because we reject them thinking that the idea might be a silly idea. You have to first generate a number of possible ideas or solutions, then select the best from among them.

  • Get a feedback on the solutions you decide on from others who are less personally involved in the task.

  • Try to think of what solutions someone else may offer for your problems.

  • Give your ideas the chance to incubate. Allowing time for incubation between production of ideas and the stage of evaluation of ideas, may bring in the ‘Aha!’ experience. 

  • Sometimes ideas cluster like branches of a tree. It is useful to diagram your thinking so that you can follow each possible branch to its completion.

  • Resist the temptation for immediate reward and success and cope with the frustration and failure. Encourage self- evaluation.

  • Develop independent thinking in making judgments, figuring out things without any help or resources.

  • Visualise causes and consequences and think ahead, predicting things that have never happened, like, suppose the time starts moving backwards, what would happen?, If we had no zero?, etc.

  • Be aware of your own defenses concerning the problem. When we feel threatened by a problem we are less likely to think of creative ideas.

  • Last but not the least, be self-confident and positive. Never undermine your creative potential. Experience the joy of your creation.  

9. Does thinking take place without language ? Discuss. 
Thinking is a silent speech and it cannot take place without language. Benjamin Lee Whorf was of the view that language determines the contents of thought. This view is known as linguistic relativity hypothesis.

In its strong version, this hypothesis holds what and how individuals can possible think is determined by the language and linguistic categories they use (linguistic determinism). Experimental evidence, maintains that it is possible to have the same level or quality of thoughts in all languages depending upon the availability of linguistic categories and structures. Some thoughts may be easier in one language compared to another. 

10. How is language acquired in human beings? 

Ans. To achieve linguistic competence, children must master the four sub-systems or language: 

  • Phonology - the ability to understand and produce speech sounds 
  • Semantics - the ability to understand words and the different combinations of words 
  • Grammar - the ability to understand the rules by which words are arranged into sentences and the rules by which words can indicate tense and gender 
  • Pragmatics - the ability to understand the rules of effective communication such as turn-taking, initiating and ending conversations and so on. 

There are two contrasting views on· how language is acquired. Some suggest that language acquisition is primarily biologically determined. This is typical nativity position in nature-nurture debate. Other position is the environmentalist position which views learning as the basis of language acquisition. 
Language development for behaviourists like B.F. Skinner follow the learning principles such as association, imitation and reinforcement. They explain it in terms of operant conditioning. 
Regional differences in pronunciation and phrasing illustrate how different patterns are reinforced in different areas. 

  • The nativist view supported by Noam Chomsky argues that human being's extra ordinary capacity to learn and use language is based on certain innate mechanisms. 
  • Chomsky suggested that children are born with powerful language acquisition device, LAD, which represents a knowledge of universal grammar. 
  • Children throughout the world seem to have a critical period that is form infancy to puberty where learning must occur if it is to occur successfully for learning language.

Most psychologists accept that both nature and nurture are important in language acquisition.