The access of relevant information for solving problems

Brian H. Ross, William J. Ryan, Patricia L. Tenpenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two issues were investigated concerning the retrieval of recently acquired relevant information for solving riddle problems. First, although earlier research indicated that problem solvers often fail to retrieve relevant information unless they are explicitly informed of its relevance, Bowden (1985) suggested that uninformed subjects would benefit greatly from additional problemsolving time. In two experiments, we found that uninformed subjects solved more problems than did subjects who did not receive the information, but a simple model attributed this difference to these uninformed subjects "catching on" to the information's relevance after solving some problems. Second, the retrieval characteristics were examined by varying the proportion of problems for which clues were given. Informed subjects given clues for only half of the problems benefited (though perhaps not fully) from being informed, without incurring any cost from being misdirected on the unclued problems. The discussion focuses on some ways in which accessing relevant information may affect problem solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-651
Number of pages13
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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