Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Intuitive versus Logical Problem-Solving

OOPS! The link I had previously placed here took readers to the Dec. presenter's promo for OPEN MIC Science, not my promo for the November presentation on Problem-Solving Thinking — which went very well by the way. But the rest of the post is about some of the audience's comments.

Lots of interesting comments and questions from the intellectually curious audience.

• Do people always have a preferred method of problem-solving — either intuitive or logical?

 Generally speaking, the "resting" state of a brain is different depending on what is your preferred style of p-s as demonstrated by by EEG and functional MRI. However, having a preferred style doesn't imply that you can't use both successfully. You just have to practice to build  your "nonstandard" neural pathways.

For example. I'm easy and comfortable with the logical style and a rarely have AHA! moments characteristic of the intuitive style. If I want to get better at problem-solving and expand my capabilities, I need to purposefully (but effortlessly?!) incubate problems, allowing time for a prepared brain to activate a bunch of loose associations such as a book title, a visual memory, a fact, advice from my mother, words to a song. Then, while I'm still leaving the incubated problem all alone in my unconscious mind, the connections are made.  POP! I'm in the shower, or waking up, or walking in the woods by myself and the solution appears as if by magic. We'll see how that works.

It's all very funny in a way. I always thought logical problem-solving was the gold standard. Further reading and research has clearly demonstrated, at least right now, that intuitive problem-solving is taking top honors! A recent article about Steve Jobs talks about him as not smart, but instead a genius; labeled as such because of his intuitive approach to problem-solving. Zen Buddhism and meditation also receive credit for contribution to his intuitive approach and resulting genius.

Here's a link to a previous post on the topic. http://intelligentwomenonly.blogspot.com/2011/10/ramp-up-your-problem-solving-thinking.html

Thanks to those of you who went to the link and took the quick poll at Linked in. I'll report the results in about 10 days.
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