Have you ever been stuck on a coding problem and kept slipping back into the same approach to solving it? As a result, you're stuck doing the same thing as before, without any new insight or progress.
Have you ever been stuck on a coding problem and kept slipping back into the same approach to solving it? As a result, you’re stuck doing the same thing as before, without any new insight or progress.
It is a frustrating circumstance because you know there has to be a better or different approach, but you feel blocked like there’s a locked door between you and a more productive strategy at solving the problem.
I faced this regularly, and I have good news for you. There’s a reason! It’s called the Einstellung Effect.
The Einstellung Effect happens when your first idea for something is influenced by how you solved something similar in the past. That can be good, but it usually prevents you from discovering a better approach.
This effect impacts you when you’re facing a new problem or one that is squarely in your area of expertise. It’s not a sign of a lack of knowledge or experience. But it can feel like it.
We are intelligent creatures. We are forever in the hunt for efficiency and optimization. As a result, our brains try to create shortcuts so we can process and output information faster.
According to Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, the author of “Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain,” the human brain evolved to manage the body’s resources to ensure survival. As a result, it likely did not develop to solve the most complex problems using new approaches. That would use too much energy.
In her book, “Learning How to Learn,” Barbara Oakley refers to this phenomenon as “rut think.” It’s when “your mind gets so used to running along neural pathways that it can’t easily change. As a result, you become less flexible in your thinking.”
How do you get around the Einstellung Effect to a new approach to solving the problem?
Keep the Einstellung Effect in mind the next time you struggle with a code bug or implementation issue. It’s how we’re made, but we can get around it!