How to Solve Problems Using Psychology

A problem, in psychology, is a situation or question that involves difficulty, uncertainty, or doubt. The ultimate goal of problem solving is to come up with the best possible outcome.

problem solving

Problem Solving Cycle

This is a series of step that can be taken to solve a problem. Steps can be repeated and done out of order or skipped until a desired result is reached.

Identify the Problem

Recognize that there is a problem and find the source of the problem.

Define the Problem and Identify Limitations

Once the problem is identified the definition of what the problem is becomes more clear.

Form a Solution Strategy

The strategy that is chosen depends on the situation and the individual.

Organize Information About the Problem

Use the information that you have to help come up with a solution.

Allocate and Use the Mental and Physical Resources Needed

Depending on what the problem is resources may be needed to come up with a solution.

Monitor Progress

Keep track of if progress is being made. If not reevaluate your strategy.

Evaluate the Results for Accuracy

This is to make sure you’ve reached the best outcome.

Problem Solving Strategies

Scientists have identified over fifty different problem solving strategies. Here are a few of the most common ones and what they are.


List options as the come to you without making judgement on them. Then look at the options you have and pick the best one.


Use a strategy that has helped in similar situations.

Break Down

Break a big problem into smaller problems that are more manageable.

Hypothesis Testing

Create a hypothesis and test it.

Trial and Error

Test random solutions out until one works.


Use existing ideas and adapt them to fit the problem.

Means/Ends Analysis

Take action to get closer to your goal at each phase of the problem solving cycle.

Let me know how well these two things help you with your problem solving. Thank you for reading.

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