The most common occurrence in households

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Mental Set Definition
A mental set is the inability of an individual to come up with new solutions to a task that has been following the same route to a solution for a long time.

Overview of Mental Set

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A mental set is a type of barrier or obstacle which inhibits an individual’s ability to think out of the box. Simply put, a mental set blocks one’s potential to come up with easier and simpler ways of problem-solving to any task. There is always a tendency to stick to the tried and tested methods even though they might not always be the best way forward in that particular situation.

A mental set inhibits an individual’s ability to reason efficiently and creates a barrier that stays until and unless the person persistently tries to think of a new and oftentimes, simpler solution. A mental set influences a person’s mindset by targeting their perception and general approach. Attaining insight and searching for ways is the only way out of a mental set.

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What you’ll learn:
Mental Set Definition
Overview of Mental Set
Mental set and perception
Mental set and insight
Functional fixedness
Mental set and perception
An individual’s perception regarding something is not only affected by the object itself but the immediate surrounding of the object as well. Alongside the current visual perception, one’s experiences, and the present approach towards life also makes a distinguishing remark on perception. The perception is influenced in such a way that even if something is completely irrelevant to the question at hand, we perceive it to be the one thing we desire it to be.

For example: This might be the most common occurrence in households everywhere when a person is expecting someone to arrive at their house. There might be a scenario playing on the television about someone ringing a doorbell but because the individual in front of the television is also expecting someone, he perceives the doorbell’s sound like his and goes to open the door, obviously finding no one outside. Our experiences make us follow a certain path and we expect it to work every single time, eventually affecting our perception for the worst as time passes.

Mental set and insight
Insight is the concept of thinking a little more than the other. Simply put, insight is a type of “eureka” moment. After spending a considerable amount of time on a task, there comes a moment where the solution seems reachable and feasible. The reason for the delayed realization stems from the mental set because every individual is conditioned to undergo a specific task in a particular and straight manner. People who have the ability and the confidence to swerve a little away from the usual and common path, more often than not are better problem solvers and decision-makers because they can come up with multiple getaways to anything concerning them.

Mental set and insight are two completely different concepts and have their own procedure but combined together, they enable any individual to think differently and efficiently progress towards a solution. The mental set is influenced by experiences and insight gives an opportunity to look at the situation objectively and in its current entirety. Insight allows the individual to think about all the possibilities and the available options because of all the previous judgments and experiences from multiple situations. On the other hand, a mental set is formed for following a similar pattern from similar situations faced.

Functional fixedness
Functional fixedness is the area within a mental set which talks about perceiving an object’s utility to a single area. The individual suffering from functional fixedness is unable to view the bigger picture and cannot think of multiple uses of the same object. Functional fixedness is rarely useful for the individual that there is a need to escape the situation hurriedly and not being able to think of multiple ideas allows the person to safely escape from that one readily available route.

For example: A person wishes to stick a nail in the wall but is unable to locate the hammer. After wasting a proportionate amount of time, he realizes he can complete the task with any metal and big object. The former situation is caused by the functional fixedness where is stuck without the hammer. The latter is the stage of insight wherein he is able to find possible solutions without taking the usual and more common method.

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