Functional Fixedness: Good OTs work to lose this!

I’ve been fascinated by functional fixedness lately. It’s all about how humans have this cognitive bias to look at an object and its intended purpose, and not necessarily think or realize how it could be used differently. The article explains it a lot better than I do. Shocking, I know.

Anyway, as the saying goes, necessity breeds invention. So true. And in the OT world, a huge piece of becoming a resourceful OT, especially with home visits, is seeing how to use objects differently than originally intended.

Consider doing some exercises where you look at an object and then see if you can brainstorm what else it could be used for. I think this would be an especially awesome exercise to do with OT students!!

For example, it’s classic OT knowledge that there are about fifty things you can do with a phone book in treatment. I often have the children tear out a page and crumble it up within one hand before throwing it into the hungry shark (recycle bin). Or they carry it. Or they look up something. Or its duct taped and used as a foot stand. Etc etc.

What about a hanger. Does it have to hold some sort of clothing or accessories? What else could it do? In one Pinterest pin I’ve seen floating around, the type of hanger that squeezes shut on pants was being used in a kitchen to hold open a cookbook.

I think creative people rarely have trouble with functional fixedness, and the same is true for people with very minimal resources. OTs are also pretty good at losing this bias. I’m trying to think of some good examples but alas, recall is one of my weakest areas, and I’m tired. So. In closing. Marvel at the world and how many people have functional fixedness. I certainly see it a lot in children with autism or similar challenges where they have very rigid perspectives. Pretty much immediately I start trying to tear away at their functional fixedness. You’re a better problem-solver when you have a more flexible approach and that includes an understanding that nothing is as it seems….change the world…make it a better place… ::sways::: ahahahah

May 19, 2014 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none