THE RELATIONSHIP OF SELF-REFERENT THOUGHT TO PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITY, PERSISTENCE AND SEX

STEPHEN M KORETSKY, Fordham University

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship of self-referent thought to problem solving ability, persistence, and sex. In addition, the self-referent thoughts that children expressed during problem solving were chronicled and classified in order to provide insight into the nature of self-referent thought. A method known as the think aloud procedure was used as a means of eliciting self-referent thought during task performance. The research questions addressed were: (a) What types of self-referent thoughts are generated through think aloud procedures and how frequently do they occur? (b) Is there a relationship between self-referent thought and persistence? (c) Is there a relationship between self-referent thought and performance? (d) Is there a relationship between self-referent thought and problem-specific thought? (e) Are there sex differences in types of self-referent thoughts expressed, and what is their impact on performance and persistence?^ A modified version of the Tower of Hanoi problem was used to present four solvable problems and one unsolvable problem to the subjects. While working on these problems, subjects were asked to think out loud in order to have a record of thoughts during problem solving.^ Using a panel of judges, thoughts expressed during the think aloud procedure were labeled as either problem-specific or self-referent. Self-referent thoughts were further classified as positive, negative or neutral by the same judges. Subjects were then further classified as positive dominant, negative dominant or non-dominant depending upon the predominant type self-referent thought.^ Results indicated that: (a) there is no correlation between self-referent thought, persistence and sex; (b) self-referent thought is positively correlated with performance; (c) general expectancy--the way a subject feels about approaching problems in general--appears to be a better predictor of performance than specific expectancy--the way a subject feels about approaching this specific problem; (d) for successful problem solvers, as time on problem increases, so do negative self-referent thoughts; (e) optimal problem solvers--those who solved all four problems correctly--tend to use significantly greater percentages of affective thoughts and significantly fewer percentages of problem-focused thoughts; and (f) for positive dominants, persistence thoughts are used significantly more often for optimal problem solvers than for non-optimal problem solvers. ^

Subject Area

Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

KORETSKY, STEPHEN M, "THE RELATIONSHIP OF SELF-REFERENT THOUGHT TO PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITY, PERSISTENCE AND SEX" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8725679.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8725679

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