Functional Fixedness

Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that refers to our tendency to see things only in terms of their usual or intended function.

Functional fixedness can lead us to miss out on potential opportunities and solutions because we are too focused on the expected use-case of an object.

For example,  imagine you are trying to solve a puzzle but you can't seem to find the right piece. You might give up because you're only looking for the piece that fits the hole, when in fact there may be other pieces that could also work (e.g. by using them in a different way or combining them with other pieces).

This bias can impact our creativity because it limits our thinking to the usual or intended use of an object. We may miss out on potential solutions because we are not considering all the possibilities.

How to avoid functional fixedness

There are a few ways that you can avoid falling prey to functional fixedness:

1. Be aware of the bias: The first step is to be aware of the bias and its impact on your thinking. This will help you to catch yourself when you are falling into the trap of functional fixedness.

2. Challenge your assumptions: When you are trying to solve a problem, take a step back and challenge your assumptions about the usual or intended use of an object. Ask yourself if there are other ways that the object could be used.

3. Be open to new ideas: When you are brainstorming solutions, be open to all ideas, no matter how outrageous they may seem at first. Sometimes the best solutions come from thinking outside the box.

In summary, functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that can impact our creativity and problem-solving ability. By being aware of the bias and making a conscious effort to challenge our assumptions, we can avoid falling prey to it.

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