U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

What is Problem Solving? A Review of Theory, Research and Applications

NCJ Number
Criminal Behavior and Mental Health Volume: 11 Issue: 4 Dated: 2001 Pages: 210-235
James McGuire
Date Published
26 pages
This article describes the theoretical models on which structured training or therapy programs, designed to develop cognitive problem-solving skills, are based.
Widely used in criminal justice and mental health settings, structured training and therapy programs, designed to emphasize the development of cognitive problem solving skills, are based on various theoretical models. This article details the conceptual origins and theoretical models that form the basis of these programs. After introducing and describing the idea of problem-solving, the author links early social problem solving research to both principles of behavior modification and cognitive-interpersonal ability deficits. Following a discussion of the manner in which interpersonal learning occurs, this article presents the ways in which social problem-solving ability can be assessed. Drawing on various models of problem-solving for both normal/adjusted and deviant/maladjusted groups of individuals, the author argues that individuals who are deficient in skills such as means/end thinking can be trained to improve their abilities. Arguing that helping individuals to develop their cognitive and interpersonal skills may help to rehabilitate criminal offenders and prevent criminal offenses from occurring, this article argues that problem-solving training has may applications beyond the theoretical level. References