Initial judgements of a problem's solvability: Are they accurate and trainable, and do they predict problem-solving success?

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Deciding whether a problem is solvable is an important step in the problem-solving process. Recent research suggests that rapid, initial judgements of solvability can discriminate solvable from unsolvable problems. Using anagrams, we explored whether judgements of solvability are discriminating when anagrams that were solved during the initial assessment are excluded, whether discrimination improves with training, and whether judgements predict later problem-solving success. In a training condition, training occurred by presenting longer duration anagrams at first, which halved across anagram blocks (16 s, 8 s, 4 s, 2 s). Judgements of solvability were discriminating in each block, even after excluding already-solved anagrams. In a no-training condition, anagram duration was 2 s in each block. Judgements of solvability were discriminating, but less so. Discrimination in the final 2 s block was better after training compared to no-training. After making judgements of solvability, participants attempted to solve the solvable anagrams. In both experiments, anagrams that received “solvable” judgements were more likely to be solved than not solved, even after excluding already-solved anagrams. However, for anagrams in the 2 s block, judgements of solvability did not become more predictive of anagram-solving success following training. In sum, judgements of solvability were discriminating and trainable, and they predicted subsequent problem-solving success—but their predictiveness did not improve with training.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event47th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 9 Apr 202111 Apr 2021 (Conference link)


Conference47th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
Abbreviated titleEPC 2021
OtherThe Experimental Psychology Conference provides an annual forum for Australasian and international researchers in experimental psychology to share their research, with an emphasis on postgraduate students and early career researchers.
Internet address


  • Problem solving
  • Judgement
  • Solvability

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