Functional fixedness is a cognitive function whereby an individual becomes fixated on a given function of an object, which prevents the individual from using the object in an alternative fashion to solve a problem (Duncker, 1935/1945). The current study analyzed the effect of functional fixedness on 36 children from three different age groups, preschool, second grade, and ninth grade. The children were presented with a problem solving activity based on a problem used by German and Defeyter (2000), in which they concluded that young children are immune to the effects of functional fixedness. Research conducted by Chrysikou (2006) indicated using an alternative categorization task could reduce the effects of fixation. The current research sought to answer three research question: are children susceptible to the effects of functional fixedness; are there differences in the effect of functional fixedness based on age; and does participating in an alternative categorization task reduce the effect of functional fixedness. The results indicated that children are susceptible to the effects of functional fixedness, when the children use the target object in a typical preutilization function, regardless of age. The results also did not demonstrate a reduction in the effect of functional fixedness after participating in an alternative categorization task.
Nehring, Michael Kenneth, "The Effect of Functional Fixation in Problem Solving among Preschool, Second Grade, and Ninth Grade Children" (2014). Dissertations. Paper 12.