ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (6): 814-825.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00814

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Routines in Three-Person Problem Solving: Measurement and the Effect of Different Collaborative Level

ZHANG Mei1; XIN Ziqiang1; LIN Chongde2   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology at School of Social Development, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China) (2 Institute of Developmental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
  • Received:2014-06-23 Published:2015-06-25 Online:2015-06-25
  • Contact: XIN Ziqiang, E-mail:


Routines are some kind of patterned behaviors or strategies when solving the same problem repeatedly. This issue has gained wide concern in different fields of social science. Since 1994, this phenomenon has been studied experimentally by Cohen and Bacdayan (1994) using the task of Transform The Target (TTT). However, this task has not gained as much attention as Tower of Hanoi in problem solving because of its complexity and uncontrollability. Searching for appropriate experimental task of routines is necessary. The “sum 10” game, which was developed by Novarese (2003) for group learning research is one of the appropriate. Based on the sum 10 game, the purpose of this research was to: (1) verify and depict the phenomenon of routines in three-person problem solving, and develop the index of routinization; (2) investigate the effect of different cooperation levels on routinization. According to the requirements of the study purpose, two electronic programs were developed based on a software development technology called LAMP, which is the combination of software Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP for building network platform. In Experiment 1, 93 undergraduates were randomly assigned into 31 groups to complete 28 rounds of the sum 10 game cooperatively. After the experiment, we interviewed all these 93 participants to learn about the process of the cooperation in the sum 10 game among the three group members. In Experiment 2, 96 undergraduates were randomly assigned to three treatment levels: full cooperation, conditional cooperation and noncooperation levels. Participants completed 28 round of the sum 10 game with two fake participants in three game rooms on the internet platform. Computer automatically recorded all performance of the participants in two experiments. The results of Experiment 1 showed that the phenomenon of routines existed obviously in the sum 10 game. Routines were confirmed and measured by two methods. Firstly, it can be confirmed and described by the following 7 indexes in three categories (behavior, cognition and emotion): increasing reliability, increasing speed, repeated action sequences, occasional suboptimality, patterned behaviors based on defined strategy, satisfaction and expectation. Secondly, routines were verified according to whether a number has been chosen more than 10 times at the individual level or whether a strategy has been chosen more than 11 times at the group level. Correspondingly, routinization could also be depicted at the individual and group level. The results of Experiment 2 showed that there were significant differences of the routinization under three different cooperation levels. The degree of routinization was the highest under the noncooperation condition, whereas it was the lowest under the full cooperation condition. Combined with previous research results, the present study constructed a new index system for routines and routinization, which could be applied to future studies. The effect of cooperation levels on routinzation indicated that routines have positive effects in problem solving, providing new ideas to investigate routine and routinization in such problem solving groups.

Key words: routines, sum 10 game, problem solving, measurement, cooperation