Functional Fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits a person’s ability to see the full range of functions or uses of an object or concept beyond its usual purpose. It also hinders creative problem-solving and innovation by restricting individuals from exploring alternative ways of utilising an object or concept beyond its original intended function.
Firstly, Functional Fixedness can be seen in various everyday situations. For instance, a person may struggle to open a tightly sealed jar because they are only trying to use their hands. Ignoring the potential of using a rubber band or a cloth to gain a better grip.
Another example could be someone who struggles to repurpose an old bookshelf into a unique piece of furniture. They are fixed on the idea that it can only be used for storing books.
A study by Karl Duncker in 1945 demonstrated that individuals who were presented with a box of tacks, a candle, and also a matchbox struggled to solve a problem that required using the box as a platform to create a stable light source. Many participants failed to realise that the box could be emptied and used as a platform.
Finally, Functional Fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits individuals from considering alternative functions or uses of objects or concepts beyond their traditional purpose, hindering creative problem-solving and also innovation.
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- “The Art of Innovation” by Tom Kelley. This book explores strategies for fostering creativity and overcoming cognitive biases to drive innovation in business and everyday life.
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