John Malouff, Ph.D., J.D., earned a law degree from the University of Colorado in 1979 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Arizona State University in 1984. He currently works as an associate professor of psychology at the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia. He has co-authored five books and several dozen articles in scientific journals. He writes a blog on Using Psychology in day-to-day life.
Link to original document: Problem Solving Strategies
Estimate the likely costs and benefits of possible solutions.
Use deductive and inductive reasoning and the scientific method to estimate the costs and benefits of each possible solution. For instance, if you have a wart on your hand, one option is to buy a commercial product that slowly disintegrates the wart. The costs include the financial cost of buying the product, the time spent in applying it daily, the cost of bandages to cover the area, the inconvenience of wearing bandages, the possible embarrassment of being asked why your are wearing a bandage, and the possibility of a life-long scar. On the benefit side the wart is very likely to be eliminated.
Choose one or more options to implement.
Solving a problem usually involves doing something. So, use deductive and inductive reasoning and the scientific method to choose one or more options to implement. This usually involves weighing the costs and benefits of each option according to your values. For instance, if you want to eliminate a wart, you might choose to do nothing and bet on the significant chance the wart will go away on its own and leave no scar. You might choose this approach because you have strong feelings against creating a life-long scar, such as those caused by more active approaches.
Implement the best possible solution and collect information about the effects.
Use deductive and inductive reasoning and the scientific method to determine the effects of the chosen option. So, if you want to eliminate a wart, you might wait a year and see whether it goes away on its own. If it doesn’t, you could choose a more active option.