Elena Martynova Humanities and Social Science
Intuition in Mathematical Problem Solving
Science is a synonym for analytical thought, rigor, meticulousness and rationality. However, some of the greatest scientific discoveries, inventions and even proofs relied on the complete opposite of that intuition. In mathematics, mother of all sciences, intuition is routine: there is no point in dedicating decades to proving a conjecture if one does not have an intuition that it is solvable. Existing research has approached intuition primarily through a linguistic lens; my research project will extend the reach of intuition to the domain of mathematical problem solving. More precisely, I will examine peoples intuitive (unconscious) ability to make estimations about arithmetic problems. My research also includes investigating symbolic distance effects which are a phenomenon when the time to compare two symbols varies inversely with the distance between their referents. This research has implications for understanding the role of unconscious processing in problem solving, intuition, and mathematical cognition.