Imagine you have two metal rings, a candle and a match. Your task is to connect the rings to make a figure 8. Melted wax is sticky and bonds to objects when dry but not strong enough to hold the rings together. Stumped? The solution is the wick. In other words, a string. By melting the wax around the wick, it can be used to tie the rings together. Arriving at this solution requires you think differently about the purpose of a wick, a name which implies a candle-related function. Psychologists say there is a two-step solution to arriving a creative answers like this.
What’s the Solution?
A common obstacle to creativity is called ‘functional fixedness’, says U of Mass Psychology PhD Tony McCaffrey. Limiting the function of a wick to burning candle wax, for example. To overcome ingrained limitations in your thought, ask yourself the following questions for every object in your problem: 1. Can the object be broken down into more elementary parts? And the often over looked question: 2. Does my description of the part imply a use? By understanding the possible functions of the most elementary pieces to the puzzle, you can arrive at unconventional uses for problems that are constrained by conventional thinking.
Embedded in a cell phone or in accessories such as rings, bracelets or watches, the novel tools aim to make it easier to manage hypertension. But they must still pass several tests before hitting the clinic.