Document Type

Book Chapter


Psychology (Scripps)

Publication Date



Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This chapter examines the first goal: understanding real-world problem solving. It is particularly concerned with issues of representativeness and what has been called ecological validity. In addition, because there is considerable evidence that there are differences across the adult life span in solving problems, as reviewed by Botwinick (1978), Giambra and Arenberg (1980), and Rabbitt (1977), it will be important to ask whether or not age is an important qualifier to the conclusions that are reached. The first section discusses the problems people actually face and reviews the paradigms used in scientific investigations to represent problems, including studies of age differences and changes in problem solving. The second section explores the extent to which the lay and scientific domains overlap and finds that there is little overlap. The final section describes an explanatory study of problems representative of those people report facing in everyday life.


Everyday Cognition in Adulthood and Late Life edited by Leonard W. Poon, David C. Rubin and Barbara A. Wilson Hardback ISBN 9780521371483 Paperback ISBN 9780521428606

Selection: Chapter 18, The cognitive ecology of problem solving, by Alan A. Hartley Copyright © 1989 Cambridge University Press

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© 1989 Cambridge University Press

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