Exercises in Problem-Solving Logically- UNIT 3


First, let me emphasize that the following case-studies and story-problems are not intended to be a test nor is a written response necessary. These are presented so that you can consider them privately, using the tools discussed in the previous Units.  If you wish to make a public comment about your thoughts, please feel free to do so.


Unquestioning Obedience

what to do 2

Let’s examine a case-study in human behavior that reveals a tendency of many to follow command without consideration of the results of the actions that one is commanded to perform.  The Milgram Study of Obedience was conducted in 1974 with shocking findings.  The Study was repeated recently and it was discovered that this tendency in behavior continues.



As you are viewing the video, analyze the situation, all of the participants, and their behaviors. Ask yourself these questions:


How would you have responded in this situation?

What would be the basis for your response?

How do you believe the participants in this experiment were able to dismiss all the sensory input information that they were receiving that what they were doing was wrong to do?

How much ‘thinking’ were they doing?


blind obedience graphic


Milgram’s Study of Obedience

Are tendencies to follow command without regard to the consequences a thing of the past? Below is a video that is a modern day re-enactment of Stanley Milgrams obedience experiment.


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teen problem solving graphic

Teens can Solve Problems Logically Too!

The adolescent stage of life is one of the most difficult transitions in human development. Peer pressure has an inordinate impact on the judgement of a child. That and other problems faced causes a good amount of internal angst and stress. Note the findings of the Baltimore, MD Center for Adolescent Health. The Center did a study of Baltimore, Md, USA teens that identified the top stressors for that age group and identified the methods most chose to deal with that stress.


“We collected data from teens (ages 14-15 years), primary caregivers, and youth service providers on the topic of teen stress. Teens completed questionnaires, month-long tape-recorded journals of their daily stress experiences, activities in which they sorted stress by frequency and level of worry, and diagrams of where they turn for support. Primary caregivers participated in focus groups and completed questionnaires. Youth service providers also were interviewed.

From a list of 16 stressors identified by teens:


  • The five most frequently experienced sources of stress in the lives of participating youth are: school work (78%), parents (68%), romantic relationships (64%), friends’ problems (64%), and younger siblings (64%).


  • The five sources of stress that cause the most worry in the lives of participating youth are: school work (68%), parents (56%), friends’ problems (52%), romantic relationships (48%), and drugs in the neighborhood (48%).


On average, boys report more frequent use of avoidance and distraction coping strategies than girls, while girls indicate more frequent use of support seeking and active coping. Avoidance strategies involve not dealing with the stress at all. Distraction involves temporarily getting one’s mind off the stress. Support seeking includes getting help. Active coping entails taking action to reduce or remove the stress”.


Below are some scenarios that many youths can identify with:

Problem Solving Scenarios for young children and Teens

    • Problem 1- Your friends came over to your house for a movie night. One of your friends brought another friend so there are more people than you planned for. You want to pass out the drinks but you only have five cans of soda and you need 6 for everyone to have one. What would you do?


    • Problem 2- You have been waiting all day for lunch to come because you are starving. Finally class gets over and you get to go to lunch. Except when you go to get to your lunch, it’s not there. You probably left it at home. What would you do?


    • Problem 3- There is a guy in your class who is always mean to you. He always bumps you when he walks by and he calls you names. He knocks stuff out of your hands and makes you feel stupid. You don’t think you can take it anymore. What would you do?


    • Problem 4- You really want to invite this new girl/guy to come to your birthday party, but you have never talked to them before. You are worried they will say no. What would you do?


    • Problem 5- You rode the bus to school today and on the way in people are pointing and laughing at you. You go in the bathroom and see that you have pink gum all over the back of your pants. What would you do?


    • Problem 6- You wake up and see that your alarm never went off. So you are starting your morning 15 minutes later than you planned. It is a really important day at school and you cannot be late. What would you do?


    • Problem 7- You are giving a group presentation in front of class and it’s your turn to talk. All of the sudden you sneeze. You cover it with your hand, but now your hand is full of stuff you sneezed out. What would you do?


    • Problem 8- You are taking a test and there is no talking allowed. You are writing your answers on the paper and your pencil breaks. What would you do?


    • Problem 9- You were waiting to swing.  When it was your turn, another boy jumped in front of you and took the swing. What would you do?


    • Problem 10- You waited a long time, but your mom didn’t come to pick you up after school. What would you do?


    • Problem 11- A bully threatened to beat you up after school. What would you do?


    • Problem 12- A boy on the playground keeps pushing you and making you mad. What would you do?


    • Problem 13- You were sitting in class doing your work and you hear the fire
      alarm. What would you do?


    • Problem 14- An adult you didn’t know came on to the playground and asked if you would help look for his lost dog. What would you do?


    • Problem 14- You forgot your lunch at home. What would you do?


  • Problem 15- The person sitting behind you keeps tapping your chair with his foot. What would you do?

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Common Marriage Problems


couple arguing


Marriage Problems — and Solutions




“Extreme Story-Telling”

Problem 1- When he doesn’t fix the leaky faucet for the third weekend in a row, you gripe about it to your best friend. Or your mother-in-law casually remarks, “How come you and Ben are fighting over your vacation?” and you know he’s been spilling.  Was she correct in speaking to someone else about the problem? “What’s the problem?”  What would you do?
“The Poor-Me Syndrome”

Problem 2- He/she sighs and rolls his eyes when you’re running late for a party. You shrug and say, “Sure, whatever” to things you don’t really want to do,  just to avoid confrontation. Nothing gets accomplished when people play the martyr, and by withholding your true feelings, you also risk building up a wall of resentment that’s tough to break down. What’s the problem?  What would you do?  
“Fights Over ‘Stuff'”

Problem 3- He/she complains repeatedly about the stacks of old paperbacks next to your already overstuffed book shelf. Each time, you retort, “Seriously, do you really need all seven of those cameras?” What’s the problem?  What would you do?
“Too Much Distance”

Problem 4- You’re both so busy with work, the kids, and your own interests that you can go for days without having a real conversation. And bedtime? That’s strictly for sleeping, thanks. What’s the problem?  What would you do?

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Racism, violence in schools, drug abuse, unemployment, hunger and unfair labor conditions are examples of social issues in the United States.Typically, social issues result from factors beyond an individual’s control and disproportionately affect people who share characteristics such as race, religion, economic status or geographic location.

Social problems are conditions or situations that at least one group in a society feel are wrong. While people agree on certain situations being problematic for society, many are objective.

Examples of such social issues include:

· Environmental decline

· Workplace discrimination

· Corporate corruption

· Poverty, unemployment and homelessness

· Health care and aging

· The decline of religion

In order for a social issue to be classified as such, it must meet certain criteria.


A community problem. The downtown area of a community is declining. Stores are closing, and moving out; no new stores are moving in. We want to revitalize that downtown. How should we do it?


Community Problems:

Adolescent pregnancy, access to clean drinking water, child abuse and neglect, crime, domestic violence, drug use, environmental contamination, ethnic conflict, health disparities, HIV/ AIDS, hunger, inadequate emergency services, inequality, jobs, lack of affordable housing, poverty, racism, transportation, violence.

· Global Governance Failure

“The risk of global governance failure, which lies at the heart of the risk map, was viewed by respondents as one of the risks that is most connected to others. Weak or inadequate global institutions, agreements or networks, combined with competing national and political interests, impede attempts to cooperate on addressing global risks.”

· Food Crises

“One of the top societal risks in the report, food crises occur when access to appropriate quantities and quality of food and nutrition becomes inadequate or unreliable. Food crises are strongly linked to the risk of climate change and related factors.”

· Failure Of a Major Financial Mechanism/Institution

“Over five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the failure of a major financial mechanism or institution also features among the risks that respondents are most concerned about, as uncertainty about the quality of many banks’ assets remains.”

· Profound Political and Social Instability

“At number 10 is the risk that one or more systemically critical countries will experience significant erosion of trust and mutual obligations between states and citizens. This could lead to state collapse, internal violence, regional or global instability and, potentially, military conflict.”

male brain response

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