# 2.2: Restructuring – The Gestalt Approach

- Page ID
- 91940

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### How is a problem represented in the mind?

- Two boys of different age are playing badminton. The older one is a more skilled player, and therefore it is predictable for the outcome of usual matches who will be the winner. After some time and several defeats the younger boy finally loses interest in playing, and the older boy faces a problem, namely that he has no one to play with anymore.
- The usual options, according to M. Wertheimer (1945/82), at this point of the story range from 'offering candy' and 'playing another game' to 'not playing to full ability' and 'shaming the younger boy into playing'. All those strategies aim at making the younger stay.
- And this is what the older boy comes up with: He proposes that they should try to keep the bird in play as long as possible. Thus they change from a game of competition to one of cooperation. They'd start with easy shots and make them harder as their success increases, counting the number of consecutive hits. The proposal is happily accepted and the game is on again.

### Insight

### Fixation

#### Functional fixedness

- Explanation: The clue is just the following: when people are confronted with a problem and given certain objects to solve it, it is difficult for them to figure out that they could use them in a different (not so familiar or obvious) way. In this example the box has to be recognised as a support rather than as a container.

- Solution: Knut has to recognise he can use the pliers in a novel function – as weight for a pendulum. He can bind them to one of the :strings, push it away, hold the other string and just wait for the first one moving towards him. If necessary, Knut can even climb on the chair, but he is not that small, we suppose . . .

#### Mental fixedness

- A typical example: People are told that on a lake the area covered by water lilies doubles every 24 hours and that it takes 60 days to cover the whole lake. Then they are asked how many days it takes to cover half the lake. The typical response is '30 days' (whereas 59 days is correct).

- Imagine Knut again, this time he is given three jugs with different capacities and is asked to measure the required amount of water. :Of course he is not allowed to use anything despite the jugs and as much water as he likes. In the first case the sizes are: 127 litres, 21 litres and 3 litres while 100 litres are desired.

- In the second case Knut is asked to measure 18 litres from jugs of 39, 15 and three litres size.