Einstellung is the development of a mechanized state of mind. Often called a problem solving set, Einstellung refers to a person’s predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though “better” or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist. The Einstellung effect is the negative effect of previous experience when solving new problems. The Einstellung effect has been tested experimentally in many different contexts. The most famous example (which led to Luchins and Luchins’ coining of the term) is the Luchins’ water jar experiment, in which subjects were asked to solve a series of water jar problems. After solving many problems which had the same solution, subjects applied the same solution to later problems even though a simpler solution existed (Luchins, 1942).[1] Other experiments on the Einstellung effect can be found in The Effect of Einstellung on Compositional Processes[2] and Rigidity of Behavior, A Variational Approach to the Effect of Einstellung.[3] By Peters Christopher Olabode.

The water jar problem (Luchins, 1942)

(Start with problem #1 and see if you can solve all 9)

How would you use 3 jars with the indicated capacities to measure out the desired amount of water?
Problem # Jar A Jar B Jar C Desired Quarts of water
1 29 3 . 20
2 21 127 3 100
3 14 163 25 99
4 18 43 10 5
5 9 42 6 21
6 20 59 4 31
7 23 49 3 20
8 15 39 3 18
9 28 76 3 25

Were you able to solve all 9? 


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