The effect of semantics on problem solving is to reduce relational complexity

Thinking and Reasoning 18 (2):159 - 182 (2012)
Abstract
This article reports a study carried out in order to measure how semantic factors affect reductions in the difficulty of the Chinese Ring Puzzle (CRP) that involves removing five objects according to a recursive rule. We hypothesised that semantics would guide inferences about action decision making. The study involved a comparison of problem solving for two semantic isomorphic variants of the CRP ( fish and fleas ) with problem solving for the puzzle's classic variant (the Balls and Boxes problem; Kotovsky learning involves generalising the relations within a coherent, interconnected whole that makes up the puzzle's rules. It seems that semantics make it easier for the puzzle's elements to be grouped together within coherent, meaningful wholes, which reduces relational complexity and facilitates problem solving
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