Fluid Intelligence Strategies
There are a multitude of strategies to solve any given problem in our daily lives. Some strategies result in a better understanding of a task, while others are detrimental to the problem-solving process. Previous research on a fluid intelligence (e.g. our ability to solve new problems using little to no prior experience) task, the Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrix (RAPM; Court & Raven, 1983), focused on two main strategies. The first strategy, constructive matching (CM) is an interactive, elaborate strategy (Gonthier & Thomassin, 2015), whereas, the second strategy, response elimination (RE) is thought to involve shallow processing (Mitchum & Kelley, 2010). Individuals who report using CM perform better on RAPM compared to those who report using RE (Gonthier & Roulin, 2019). Our line of reseach aims to understand whether the effectiveness of strategy depends on problem difficulty. Results of our studies suggest that, not only does perceived difficulty play a role in task performance, but it also influences the efficacy of strategies. That is, so-called "effective" strategies may not be useful when perceived difficulty peaks (see Figure 1).
Predicted probability correct for constructive matching (purple line) and response elimination (gray line) across the perceived difficulty rating. As a participants' perceived difficulty increases, the probability they get a problem correct decreased.
In a follow-up study to understand the complexities of why participants switch strategies, we assessed whether order of presentation affects overall performance on the task and strategy choice. Whereas order of presentation did not affect overall performance, it did affect strategy choice. Specifically, participants reported using CM for easier trials and RE for harder trials in all three conditions, despite the fact that easy and hard trials were presented at different points in the task across conditions (see Figure 2). These results indicate that, despite being unaware of the order manipulation, participants tracked problem difficulty and implemented strategies, accordingly.
Raw data for the proportion correct on the RAPM for each strategy (CM – blue line, RE – green line, Both – read line) across the number of trials for each order. In the ascending condition (easy trials to hard trials), CM decreased in proportion correct as trial difficulty increases, whereas RE increased in proportion correct as trial difficulty decreased. The opposite pattern is found in the descending condition (hard trials to easy trials), where the efficacy of CM increased as difficulty decreased and the efficacy of RE remained roughly the same across trial difficulty.
In addition to the completed studies above, student-lead research in the laboratory is currently underway to evaluate the role of feedback on the RAPM task across different conditions (e.g. ascending or descending order). Results will be updated once the data is analyzed.
(* denotes current or former undergraduate author)
*Applegate, W., Bell, T. J., & Bailey, H. (2021, November). What happens to strategy use and effectiveness when difficulty is manipulated on the RAPM task? Poster presented at Psychonomics. Online.
Bell, T. J, *Applegate, W., *Muto, M., & Bailey, H. (2021, March). Effective strategies – When do they fail? Talk presented at Midwestern Psychological Association. Online.
*Applegate, W., Bell, T. J., & Bailey, H. (2021, May). The effects of difficulty on problem-solving. 2021 Undergraduate Research Convocation at Kansas State University.Manhattan, KS.
Bell, T. J, *Applegate, W., *Muto, M., & Bailey, H. (2019, March). Effective strategies – When do they fail? Talk presented was to be presented at Midwestern Psychological Association. Chicago, IL. Cancelled due to COVID-19.
*Pachek, S., *Augustine, E., & Bell. T. J. (2019, March). Performance on the Ravens Matrices does not differ significantly by sex. Poster was to be presented at Midwestern Psychological Association. Chicago, IL. Cancelled due to COVID-19.
Bell, T. J, & Bailey, H. (2019, November). Effective strategies – When do they fail? Poster presented at Psychonomics. Quebec, Canada.