Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 15, Iss. 2, April, 2011, pp. 145-173
@2011 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Nonlinear Dynamics and Neo-Piagetian Theories in Problem Solving: Perspectives on a New Epistemology and Theory Development

Dimitrios Stamovlasis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Abstract: In this study, an attempt is made to integrate Nonlinear Dynamical Systems theory and neo-Piagetian theories applied to creative mental processes, such as problem solving. A catastrophe theory model is proposed, which implements three neo-Piagetian constructs as controls: the functional M-capacity as asymmetry and logical thinking and the degree of field dependence independence as bifurcation. Data from achievement scores of students in tenth grade physics were analyzed using dynamic difference equations and statistical regression techniques. The cusp catastrophe model proved superior comparing to the pre-post linear counterpart and demonstrated nonlinearity at the behavioral level. The nonlinear phenomenology, such as hysteresis effects and bifurcation, is explained by an analysis, which provides a causal interpretation via the mathematical theory of self-organization and thus building bridges between NDS-theory concepts and neo-Piagetian theories. The contribution to theory building is made, by also addressing the emerging philosophical, - ontological and epistemological- questions about the processes of problem solving and creativity.

Keywords: nonlinear dynamics, catastrophe theory, creativity, problem solving, neo-Piagetian theories, M-capacity, logical thinking, field dependenceindependence, science education