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Course Lesson Lesson Title Author Development Date

Number State

Psychology 25 Thinking & Ilanna S. October 13,

Creativity Mandel 2008
2: Strategies and obstacles Discussing how creative thinking strategies, such as divergent
involved in problem solving and thinking, and restructuring, are used in
decision-making problem solving

IVC-2.2 Explain the use of Describing the effects of social factors on problem solving
creative thinking in problem

1. Prepare Phase

Did you ever wonder how some of the world’s greatest ideas came to be? When you hear
the announcements for the Nobel Prizes, do you stop and think; “I wonder how someone
came up with those incredible solutions to such complicated problems? Since the dawn of
human history, we have used our ability to think to connect the dots. At the dawn of
civilization it was practical but simple ideas such as how to get food, shelter and clothing.
Over the centuries, the problems have become enormously more complex – how to live
peacefully in the age of nuclear weapons, how to solve the problems of global warming
and prevent humanity from disappearing altogether. Still, the cognitive process is the
same. There is a connection between thinking and creativity. Creativity is the ability
to invent or imagine something new. This can be in any domain such as art, music,
engineering, science, medicine, economics and any other area you can think of.

Prerequisite skills

a. Describing the steps involved in the problem-solving process

b. Providing examples of how algorithms, heuristics, and insight are used in problem
Lesson Expectations

a. The connections between creative thinking strategies, such as divergent thinking, and
restructuring and how they are used in problem solving
b. Understanding the effects of social factors on problem solving

Key Terms

Convergent Thinking is oriented towards deriving the single best (or correct) answer to
a clearly defined question. It emphasizes speed, accuracy, logic, and the like, and focuses
on accumulating information, recognizing the familiar, reapplying set techniques, and
preserving the already known.

Divergence is usually indicated by the ability to generate many, or more complex or

complicated, ideas from one idea or from simple ideas or triggers.

Divergent Thinking is a thought process or method, which is usually applied with the
goal to generate ideas. It is often used for creative and problem solving purposes.

Thinking involves the cerebral manipulation of information, as when we form concepts,

engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions.

2. Deliv er & Pr actice P hase

Here are some modern devices we all take for granted. But, at some point, someone had
to invent or create them. Without inventors, without people who are willing and able to
“think outside the box”, there would be no inventions to make our lives easier. Take a
1. Toaster
2. Telephone
3. Television
4. Vacuum
5. Oven
6. Refrigerator
7. Microwave Oven
8. CAT Scan
9. MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging
10. Movie Camera

NOW, let’s get creative! Look at your list again. Now, try to imagine your life without
these inventions. What would it be like? What would be missing?


Methods and Techniques

• brainstorming
• breaking components into sections for modular analysis
• keeping a journal
• freewriting
• mind and subject mapping
• great thinking
• taking time to think
• art work


Fluency - The ability to generate a number of ideas so that there is an increase of

possible solutions or related products.

Flexibility - The ability to produce different categories or perceptions whereby there are
a variety of different ideas about the same problem or thing.

Elaboration - The ability to add to, embellish, or build off of an idea or product.

Originality - The ability to create fresh, unique, unusual, totally new, or extremely
different ideas or products

Complexity - The ability to conceptualize difficult, intricate, many layered or

multifaceted ideas or products.

Risk-taking - The willingness to be courageous, adventuresome, daring -- trying new

things or taking risks in order to stand apart.

Imagination - The ability to dream up, invent, or to see, to think, to conceptualize new
ideas or products � to be ingenious.
Curiosity - The trait of exhibiting probing behaviors, asking and posing questions,
searching, being able to look deeper into ideas, and the wanting to know more about

*Source: http://www.uwsp.edu/education/lwilson/creativ/divergentthink.htm


Simon Middleton provides some wonderful ways of connecting creative thinking and
problem solving. He also addresses the social factors in video 2.

You can watch these back to back. Please, make notes and look out for the following:

1. Why Mr. Middleton says we sometimes have to think “inside the box”
2. The importance of the analogy the Black Swan
3. The ways in which right and left brain thinking differ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4D8kebA7kE 5:03
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsEynS4Ip2Y (2) – stop at 5:05


What we see and how we think about something often depends upon where we live in the
world. Examine this photo and write down your thoughts and perceptions. Where are
these people? Who are they? What’s above the woman’s head? What do you think is
going on in the photo?
Once you’ve made your assessment click on the following link to see more info on this
exercise. In what way do you think that your social environment or background played a
role in what you see in this picture?


In the tradition of great innovators such as Thomas Edison or Madame Curie, you are
going to get the opportunity to invent or create something new. This doesn’t have to be
anything earth-shaking or profoundly important but something new and different.

It can be anything:


Think inside and outside the box. Try to come up with something new and then
chart your process.

1. What were the steps you took to complete this project?

2. What was your greatest difficulty or challenge?
3. What did you find easy and enjoyable?
4. How long did it take to come up with your idea and what did you learn in the process?

3. S ummariz e Phase

You will have learned the following:

a. The connections between creative thinking strategies, such as divergent thinking, and
restructuring and how they are used in problem solving
b. Understanding the effects of social factors on problem solving

4. As sessmen t Phase

Multiple Choice: correct answers in bold

1. Divergent thinking is:

a. Thinking outside the box
b. Generating one idea to the next
c. Generating a number of complicated or complex ideas from a single idea
Divergent thinking enables us to take one idea and from there we can create a series
of connected ideas that are far more complex yet connected. A good example might
be the car. As we face global warming, many innovative engineers are taking the
idea of the car and connecting that to other complex ideas such as fuel cells and
hybrid vehicles.

2. Convergent thinking is:

a. applying the unknown to a problem
b. deriving the single best answer to a clearly defined question
c. deriving a multiplicity of answers to a clearly defined question
Convergent thinking is best understood as the opposite of divergent thinking. It is
very practical and seeks the most direct answer to a question.

3. The right side of the brain tends to use:

a. analytical thinking
b. holistic thinking
c. holistic and analytical thinking
The right side of the brain is often thought of as the “creative brain”.

4. The left side of the brain is helpful with:

a. learning languages
b. learning musical theory
c. intuitive thinking
Although some think of the left brain as the “opposite” of the right brain, they are
actually more complementary to each other.

5. Fixed ideas can:

a. only be changed with prolonged and determined analysis
b. with analysis and inspiration
c. in an instant due to an unusual situation or phenomenon
Fixed ideas may be a bit of a ‘misnomer’. They are ideas that we generally think of
as true but in an instant, a new piece of information or a sudden realization can
change that.

6. The expression; “I can’t see the woods for the trees” really means:
a. I can’t really see the problem
b. I don’t want to see the problem
c. I can only see the problem from a fixed perspective
Yes, this popular phrase is really a way of saying I just don’t know what the
problem is!

7. When we are presented with an enormous problem the brain often has the habit of:
a. breaking it down into components to make it more easily understandable
b. going into panic mode due to the “blank page” phenomenon
c. breaking it down into manageable ideas
The blank page phenomenon is often used with reference to writers. When they
really can’t think of what to write they say it’s the horror of facing the blank page.
But, the brain can go into panic mode when we’re faced with that similar to facing
an enormous problem we have to do a great deal of work to resolve.

8. Great inventions and brilliant inventors are usually the result of:
a. that ‘magic’ moment of inspiration
b. inspiration and hard work
c. determined analysis of a problem
Again, think of the car as an example. While the initial idea of the “horseless
carriage” was wonderful, it took years of hard work to actually perfect the idea we
know of as the automobile.

9. According to Middleton’s video, what is Starbuck’s brilliant strategy to make people

comfortable in their shops?
a. making it a more home-like and comfortable atmosphere
b. easy-going banter between customers and clerks
c. an environment that feels that it’s the opposite of our homes
Starbuck’s prides itself on creating a homey like atmosphere which was a new
concept in coffee shops and their environments.

10. Social factors impact our thinking because:

a. we are at least to some degree all products of our environment
b. our cultural backgrounds make it impossible for us to see things in other ways
c. certain cultures see certain things
Although each of these statements contains a grain of truth, the top one is really the
most applicable. We are products of our cultural and social backgrounds and as
members of a culture we do see things in a certain way. But, that doesn’t mean we
can’t learn to see it from other perspectives because we can.

11. The importance of the Black Swan analogy in Middleton’s video was:
a. no one had ever seen a Black Swan before
b. Black Swans are rare and only exist in Australia
c. The world assumed all swans were white
That was until they went to Australia and saw black swans!

12. Inspiration can take place:

a. anywhere and with anyone
b. only in an atmosphere conducive to brainstorming and other techniques
c. only in certain people at certain times
Inspiration is a wonderful thing. Anytime, anyplace and any person can be inspired.

13. Truly creative thinkers and innovators can:

a. only create in one area or direction such as either artistic or scientific
b. create in multiple directions given the encouragement and the tools
c. create in multiple directions only if taught how to use the right/left brain technique
Creative thinkers can do so much more than they’re often given credit for and we
often think of an artistically creative person as only working in that direction.
Leonardo de Vinci is a perfect example. He was a painter, a scientist, and an
inventor. He created in many different directions and other creative minds have too.

14. In Middleton’s videos he talks about “morphological analysis”. This is:

a. a common technique in creative thinking
b. a technique that encourages us to think outside the box
c. Middleton’s technique that encourages us to think inside the box
Middleton believes that we must “step into the box” and take things apart to see
things in new ways.

15. Morphological analysis is described by Middleton as:

a. deconstructing or taking apart something and looking at its components
b. reconstructing images or ideas from an analytical rather than a holistic perspective
c. redesigning ideas or images with the idea that inside the box is a metaphor and not a
real strategy
Yes, and think of the above answer as a guideline. We step into the box, take things
apart and we are faced with a brand new way of looking at a situation or problem.

Extra Assignment

Think back to a time (it can be recently or even in the past) when you were faced with a
difficult problem. Write a two page essay on the following:

• What did you do to solve this problem?

• What inspired you to come up with the solution?
• Did you solution work? If so, why? If not, why?
explain why you think this alternative solution might have been a more creative
solution to the problem
• Write this piece from a personal perspective and in the first person
• This is not a research piece but rather one which asks you to use your creative
thinking and your insight to analyze a problem in your life

5. S uppor t Tools


This page takes you to some wonderful information and exercises on thinking and being a
creative thinker.
6. Custom Dir ections

After the students have looked at the photo in the deliver and
practice phase, they should be able to click on the following

When scientists showed a similar sketch to people from East Africa, nearly all the
participants in the experiment said she was balancing a box or metal can on her head. In
a culture containing few angular visual cues, the family is seen sitting under a tree.
Westerners, on the other hand, are accustomed to the corners and boxlike shapes of
architecture. They are more likely to place the family indoors and to interpret the
rectangle above the woman's head as a window through which shrubbery can be seen.
Source: http://www.creativethinking.net/DX15_WhatDoYouSee.htm?Entry=Good