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Blocks to Creative Problem Solving


Perceptual Blocks

Perceptual blocks can be thought of as obstacles that prevent the problem solver from clearly perceiving either the problem itself or the information needed to solve the problem. Using the work of Adams (1979) and Simberg (1964), we can generate the following list of perceptual blocks:

1. Stereotyping and labeling: You simply cannot see clearly if you are controlled by preconceptions.

2. Difficulty in isolating the problem: This is the case where the individual is unable to seperate the real problem from related problems.

3. Difficulty caused by narrowing the problem too much: The block usually occurs when little or no attention is paid to the factors/environment surrounding the problem.

4. An inability to define the terms: Quite simply, if you do not understand the problem, then you can’t work on it.

5. Failure to utilize all of the senses when observing: Multiple senses may be helpful in solving a problem.

6. Saturation: Sensory overload results when we are presented with more environmental stimuli than can be adequately processed by the IPS.

7. Difficulty in seeing remote relationships: In this instance the individual lacks the ability to see that a solution in one system may also have applications in another system.

8. Failure to distinguish between cause and effect:

A clear—cut distinction between cause and effect, does not always exist, therefore the creative problem solver must learn not to jump to conclusions regarding causality.

9. Failure to investigate the obvious: Once we have become accustomed to seeing particular situations and problems in a certain way, it becomes increasingly difficult to see them otherwise.

The most comprehensive procedure for overcoming perceptual blocks, thereby increasing perceptual awareness, is a series of exercises offered by the gestalt therapists: Pens, Heffenline, and Goodman (1977).

Cultural Blocks

Cultural blocks or inhibitions can fall under several different kinds of conformity or social influences (Rokeach, 1981). First, the individual who is a member of a group may be influenced by group situations. Second, a member of a group may be influenced by another member with prestige. Last, one member may influence the judgment of another member (in this case there is not a prestige effect). Whereas conformity requires that we act in a certain way by custom, creativity requires that the present way be challenged and,if necessary, changed.

Some specific cultural inhibitions, according to Adams (1979) and Simbeng (1964) are:

1. Playfulness is for children only, and serious problem solving requires a serious attitude.

2. Closely associated with these (mis)conceptions is the assumption that humor has no place in problem solving.

3. The desire to conform to an adopted pattern and the uncomfortable feeling of being different.

4. The value judgment that inquisitiveness and skepticism are undesirable qualities.

5. Overemphasis on cooperation or on competition.

6. Too much faith in statistics: The major problem here is that people don’t look beyond the statistic.

7. Too much faith in reason and logic.

8. The belief that indulging in fantasy and reflection is worthless and lazy.


Emotional Blocks

Emotional inhibitions to creativity usually result from past traumatic experiences and/or the stress of everyday living. Probably the root of most emotional blocks is insecurity. Regardless of whether it is an insecurity of self, life, parents, job, death, unknown, or new situations, it can still be regarded as a fear or anxiety that is just as effective in inhibiting creativity as are perceptual and cultural inhibitions.

Again, using the work of Adams (1979) and Simberg (1964), we can derive the following list of emotional inhibitions:

1. Fear of making a mistake or of making a fool of oneself. This is particularly the case if the individual is new to the group.

2. Fear of taking a risk. In this instance the

individual is seeking preservation of the status quo. (It may manifest itself as a pathological desire for security.)

3. Rigidity of thinking, or functional fixedness. Everyone possesses opinions, prejudices, and preferences for certain methods, processes, and materials.

4. Over motivated to succeed quickly. When the individual does not immediately see a solution to a problem, he may become frustrated and either give up or continue to pound his head against a stone wall.

5. Fear of authority. This may often manifest itself in the form of a fear of supervisors and a distrust for colleagues and subordinates. Often the causes of such are the result of a lack of individual self—confidence or a fear of authority.

6. Lack of drive. This may take two different forms. The individual may lack drive in carrying a problem through to completion and testing it or in putting the solution to work.

7. Reality and fantasy. The individual needs to be able to control imagination and have complete access to it. Creativity requires the manipulation and recombination of experience; otherwise it is limiting.



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