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    Can you solve the candle problem?

    July 29, 2010 2753 Views

    Karl Duncker, a German psychologist, investigated new ways to solve problems. His idea was that we often get stuck in our typical ways of thinking...making it hard for us to see a real solution. This concept, which he called functional fixedness and defined as being a "mental block against using an object in a new way that is required to solve a problem", led him to create The Candle Problem. The picture below prompts his test:

    candleproblem

    In this problem, his subjects had to attach the candle to the wall, light it, and not allow any wax to get on the table. I'm not going to reveal the answer, because (if you're like me) you'd like some time to think it through. I'll post the answer in a couple days so you can mull over it.

    It's easy to get stuck in the same way of thinking and miss potential new ideas and different ways of looking at life. Dan Pink uses this experiment and concept to draw a picture of motivation. Warning: he does reveal the answer to the candle problem. Please enjoy Dan's talk:


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