Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

I’ve Got 99 Problems... But It’s Just One?: Problem Solving and Clips

Cole Peterson, Belmont University
Eric Febles, Belmont University
Chase Metzger, Belmont University
Ephreme Megenta, Belmont University


Previous research examining mood and cognitive flexibility broadly suggests that emotional disposition affects one’s creative avenues (Bolte & Goschke). This becomes apparent when deciphering patterns and developing strategies to approach multi-faceted problems. Cognitive fixation is a phenomenon that occurs when individuals concentrate and hyper focus on a singular strategy when solving a problem to the detriment of potentially more relevant aspects that can yield a solution (Fioratou 2009). Mathematical problems are a reliable measure when assessing these patterns. The present study includes Luchins Water Jug task– a mathematical problem solving exercise that requires measuring a specific amount of water using three jars of different capacities. The task is designed to assess the degree of cognitive fixation when it comes to critically thinking about multiple answers to a problem. Before tasking participants with mathematical problems to solve, they will be emotionally primed by watching a series of happy or sad videos. Unlike the present study, previous literature has recorded emotional states exclusively via self-report methods (Gasper 2003). This study presents a new, emotionally inducing method, in which an external stimulus is presented in the form of videos, rather than a self induced recollection of memories. If emotional disposition has effects on creative avenues, results should show differences in levels of fixation between groups. A positively (happy) induced mood should yield lowered levels of fixation, while a negatively (sad) induced mood should yield increased levels of fixation.