The Creative Problem Finding Hierarchy: A Suggested Model for Understanding Problem Finding

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Abstract

This paper proposes a model, which hopefully will allow researchers in the psychology of creativity to confirm that the different levels and different labels for problem finding can be unified under one construct - problem finding (PF). Although no clear distinctions are made among the levels and terms used in the PF literature, the current efforts suggest that there are important differences that can be explained by (a) how well- or ill-defined a problem is, and (b) the degree to which ideation and evaluation are required. Based on these two criteria, a rubric is presented that allows distinctions to be made among five the PF processes: (a) problem discovery, (b) problem formulation, (c) problem construction, (d) problem identification, and (e) problem definition. The authors examined the literature on PF in English from 1960 to 2015 using the following databases: (a) Academic Search Premier, (b) PsycARTICLES, (c) PsycINFO, (d) Dissertation Abstract, (e) Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), (f) Psychology & Behavioral Science Collection, and (g) the Google Scholar. This search resulted in 199 articles in which at least 13 different terms were used to describe the process of finding a problem. Only a few articles endeavored to distinguish among the terms used in the literature. This paper concludes by suggesting that one term (i.e., problem finding) is to be used to avoid confusion. If this is not possible, for whatever reason, the term used instead should be defined and the reasons for the choice of terms clearly stated.

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