Self-Regulation Theory: How Optimal Adjustment Maximizes Gain

By Dennis E. Mithaug | Go to book overview

Chapter 2 The Nature of Problem Solving

For millions of years, Homo sapiens problem solving was probably much like that of other animals--trial and error searches to avoid harsh conditions and seek out favorable ones. But then humans learned to use language to communicate with each other about what worked and what did not. This side-stepped reinventing solutions. Successful strategies passed from generation to generation. Nevertheless the process was slow. Our earliest ancestors probably were not very effective or efficient problem solvers. The stone tools found by Louis and Mary Leaky and others in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania suggest that Homo habilis was the first to accumulate a cultural tool kit. Later, Homo erectus replaced Homo habilis and improved the use of hunting weapons.

Progress was still microscopic by current standards. Homo erectus used the same stone-based tools for 1.5 million years before Homo sapiens replaced him with metal instruments eight thousand years ago. Homo sapiens also domesticated animals and plants over a period of several thousands of years. These advances were probably a consequence of humans congregating in larger groups, especially following the ice age.

When increased temperatures and decreased rainfall in the north caused vegetation to dry up, herds of animals migrated south. This left the hunting nomads with a declining food supply. So they followed. Some time between 6000 and 5000 B.C. hunters from northern India, central America, Peru, Syria, and Egypt found food and water in river valleys like that of the Nile. This 750-mile, fertile stretch of land, which is now Egypt, provided ample supplies of water, plants, and animals. Nomadic hunters settling in these locations probably noticed that seeds scattered on moist riverbanks produced abundant growth. This encouraged them to scatter seeds more regularly to increase the food supply. Others imitated, and domestication of edible plants was under way. Although it took thousands

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Self-Regulation Theory: How Optimal Adjustment Maximizes Gain
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xv
  • Chapter 1 - The Problem of Adaptation 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 the Nature of Problem Solving 19
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter 3 - The Theory of Self-Regulation 43
  • Notes 61
  • Chapter 4 - Self-Regulated Thinking 63
  • Notes 81
  • Chapter 5 - Self-Regulated Doing 85
  • Notes 116
  • Chapter 6 - Maximum Gain 119
  • Notes 146
  • Chapter 7 - Self-Determined Gain 149
  • Notes 178
  • Chapter 8 - Innovative Gain 183
  • Conclusion 205
  • Appendix 209
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 223
  • About the Author 235
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