"DIRECTION" AND THE "SOLUTION CONSCIOUSNESS" IN REASONING
Many psychologists who have studied human behavior in problem situations conceive of the problem-solving process as one which requires the proper selection of the element or elements necessary for the accomplishment of a given task. Suppose, for instance, that a camper must light a fire but can find no matches. Solution of the problem requires that he select for performance one particular group of actions rather than another. Praying for matches to rain down from the skies will not get him very far, nor will going to sleep or walking around in circles. But if he thinks of using his flashlight lens to focus the sun's rays on some inflammable material, he has selected a very promising set of elements for the solution of the problem.
The process by which the correct selection is made is commonly understood to involve two mechanisms: (1) trial and error, and (2) association by similarity. By trial and error is meant the random movements of a baffled organism, "random" in the sense that they are inefficient and unregulated so far as the problem is concerned. The organism is forced into action by the stimulation of a need (e.g., hunger). If in this crucial situation food is not available, the organism responds first in one way and then in another, each "try" being followed by failure. Eventually, however, a movement or group of movements may be made which results in the removal of the stimulus (in our example, cessation of the hunger pangs). Here the correct selection has occurred by a chance discovery. If the situation should recur, and if the animal is capable of learning or thinking, the successful response is likely to appear more readily. After many repetitions of the situation, such an animal will make the proper response promptly. Association by similarity1 means the reproduction in a new situation____________________