Social problem solving (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

25 October 2010

It is important to note that the adjective social in the term social problem solving is not meant to limit the study of problem solving to any particular type of problem; rather, it is used only to highlight the fact that the focus of study is on problem solving that occurs within the natural social environment.

(D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006, p. 12)

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Problematic situations (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

25 October 2010

Problematic situations commonly include one or more of the following natural aversive conditions:

  • Harmful or painful stimuli that threaten the homeostatic balance of the body, including various pathogens and any intense physical stimulus, for example, noise, heat, cold, or pressure (Selye, 1983).
  • Conflict, such as competing stimulus demands, or interpersonal conflict (Epstein, 1982; Janis & Mann, 1977; Phillips 1978).
  • Frustration, or an obstacle preventing a goal response (Mather, 1970).
  • Loss or deprivation of customary reinforcers (Mowrer, 1960).
  • Uncontrollability and unpredictability of aversive events (Hamberger & Lohr, 1984).
  • Ambiguity (Wrubel et al., 1981).
  • Complexity or novelty that cannot be assimilated successfully with stored information or prior experience (McClelland & Clark, 1966; Hunt, 1963).

(Followed by examples.)

(D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006, p. 50)


Rational problem solving I (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

13 October 2010

The model identifies four major problem-solving skills: 1) problem definition and formulation, 2) generation of alternative solutions, 3) decision-making, and 4) solution implementation and verification. These four skills may be viewed as a set of specific goal-directed tasks that enable a person to solve a particular problem successfully. Each task has its own unique purpose or function in the problem-solving process. The function of problem definition and formulation is to gather relevant, factual information about the problem, clarify the nature of the problem (i.e., identify demands, obstacles, and/or conflicts), and set a realistic problem solving goal. The purpose of generation of alternative solutions is to produce a list of potential solutions in such a way as to maximize the likelihood that the best solution will be among them. This is accomplished by applying three principles; quantity, deferment of judgement, and variety. To apply the quantity principle, the person generates as many solutions as possible.When using the deferment of judgment principle, the person suspends judgment or critical evaluation of solutions until later in the problem-solving process (i.e., during the decision-making task). To apply the variety principle, the person generates as many different types of solutions as possible.

The purpose of decision-making is to evaluate (judge and compare) the available solutions and choose the best one(s) for implementation in the problematic situation. In the present model, the best solution is the one that is most likely to achieve the problem-solving goal while maximizing positive consequences and minimizing negative consequences. Finally, the function of solution implementation and verification is to assess the solution outcome and verify the effectiveness or utility of the chosen solution in the actual problematic situation.

(D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006, s. 23)


Rational problem solving II (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

13 October 2010

Rational problem solving is a constructive problem-solving style that is defined as the rational, deliberate, and systematic application of effective problem-solving skills. As described in the original model, there are four major problem skills: 1) problem definition and formulation, 2) generation of alternative solutions, 3) decision-making, and 4) solution implementation and verification. In problem definition and formulation, the problem solver tries to clarify and understand the problem by gathering as many specific and concrete facts about the problem as possible, identifying demands and obstacles, and setting realistic problem-solving goals (e.g., changing the situation for the better, accepting the situation, and minimizing emotional distress.) In the generation of alternative solutions, the person focuses on the problem-solving goals and tries to identify as many potential solutions as possible, including a variety of different conventional and original solutions. In decision making, the problem solver anticipates the consequences of the different solutions, judges and compares them, and then chooses the best or potentially most effective solution. In the final step, solution implementation and verification, the person carefully monitors and evaluates the outcome of the chosen solution after attempting to implement it in the real-life problematic situation.

(D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006, s. 25)


Problem solving vs implementation (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

13 October 2010

Our theory of social problem solving distinguishes the concepts of problem solving and solution implementation. These two processes ae conceptually different and require different sets of skills. Problem solving refers to the process of finding solutions to specific problems, whereas solution implementation refers to the process of carrying out those solutions in the actual problematic situations. Problem-solving skills are expected to vary across situations depending on the type of problem and solution. The range of possible solution-implementation skills includes all the cognitive and behavioral performance skills that might be required for effective functioning within a particular person’s environment.

Because they are different, problem-solving skills and solution-implementation skills are not always correlated. Hence, some individuals might possess poor problem-solving skills but good solution-implementation skills, or vice versa. Because both sets of skills are required for effective functioning or social competence, it is often necessary to combine PST with training in other social and behavioral skills in order to maximize positive outcomes.

(D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006, s. 14)


Problem solving as self-control (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

13 October 2010

D’Zurilla and Goldfried argued that problem-solving training can be conceived as a form of self-control training, where individuals learn how to change their own behavior for the better and, thus, function as their own therapist. With these new problem-solving skills, individuals can increase their coping effectiveness across a wide range of problematic situations and, consequently, reduce stress in daily living which in turn, helps to reduce and prevent stress-related symptoms and disorders. (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006, s. 8.)


Problem solving (short) (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2006)

13 October 2010

Successful problem solving reduces maladjustment and enhances positive adjustment. (D’Zurilla, Nezu, 2006, s. 3)