Problem Restructuring Processes for Ill-Structured Verbal Analogies
Barnes, G. Michael
Embretson, Susan E.
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The processes involved in analogy solving have been an important investigative area in cognitive psychology. Although problem restructuring has been a central construct in problem solving theory, no restructuring processes have been proposed for analogical reasoning. Yet, the stimulus terms for analogies, as they appear on ability tests, are often ill-structured. That is, they are ordered in a way that does not permit direct problem comprehension. In the current study, both perceptual and semantic problem restructuring processes were hypothesized for analogy solving. The independence, stage of execution, and susceptibility to strategic control of the two processes were examined. The results from two experiments indicated that (1) ill-structured analogies are restructured during problem solving, (2) perceptual and semantic restructuring processes are independent and executed at different stages of analogy solving, and (3) both processes exhibited automaticity since repetition of analogy solution attenuated but did not eliminate either restructuring process. A model of analogical reasoning that incorporated both restructuring processes and their execution sequences was proposed. The nature and automaticity of perceptual and semantic analogy restructuring processes were discussed.