Accident and agency: a mixed methods study contrasting luck and interactivity in problem solving

Ross, Wendy and Vallée-Tourangeau, Frédéric (2022) Accident and agency: a mixed methods study contrasting luck and interactivity in problem solving. Thinking and Reasoning, 28 (4). pp. 487-528. ISSN 1354-6783

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Abstract / Description

Problem solving in a materially rich environment requires interacting with chance. Sixty-four participants were invited to solve 5-letter anagrams presented as movable tiles: half of the conditions allowed the participants to move the tiles as they wished, the other half only allowed random shuffling (without rearranging the tiles post shuffling) thus contrasting pure luck with an interactive model. We hypothesised that shuffling would break unhelpful mental sets and introduce beneficial unplanned problem-solving trajectories. However, participants performed significantly worse when shuffling, which suggests luck plays less of a role than has been previously suggested. Granular analysis of seven critical cases revealed arbitrary path dependency across both conditions and moments of missed luck. It also questions current models of non-agentic luck and the ability to separate agent and luck. This research has implications for fostering better problem solving in an uncertain and fluid world.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: serendipity; interactivity; chance discovery; luck
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 150 Psychology
Department: School of Human Sciences
Depositing User: Wendy Ross
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2021 09:33
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 09:55


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