Functional Fixedness vs. Mental Set

Hi! What’s the difference between functional fixedness and a mental set? I noticed they seem pretty similar.

Hey! I tried simplifying it a little!
Functional fixedness: When the intended purpose of an object hinders a person’s ability to see its potential other uses.
Mental Set: An unconscious tendency to approach a problem in a particular way.

1 Like

Hi @lauragess! Functional fixedness is our tendency to look at an object only in its traditional use. For example, a fork is an eating utensil, not a weapon. A mental set is when you approach a problem in the same manner as was successful in the past. Have you ever tried to have your parent show you how to do a Math problem, but they use a technique they learned 30 years ago? It’s not the technique, your teacher taught you…

1 Like
Fiveable Logo

2550 north lake drive
suite 2
milwaukee, wi 53211



about for students for parents for teachers for schools & districts content team privacy contact


🥇 2020 Fiveable Olympics study plans upcoming events trivia hypertyper resources cram passes


community tiktok discord twitter instagram facebook careers

*ap® and advanced placement® are registered trademarks of the college board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

© fiveable 2020 | all rights reserved.