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)