A mental set (Einstellung effect) is a psychological concept that refers to the tendency of individuals to approach problems and situations in a particular way, based on their previous experiences and knowledge. It is based on the idea that individuals have cognitive biases and habits that shape their thinking and problem-solving, and that these biases can sometimes hinder their ability to think creatively or to consider alternative approaches.
Mental sets can be influenced by a variety of factors, including past experiences, education, and cultural background. They can be useful in some situations, as they allow individuals to utilize their knowledge and skills to efficiently solve familiar problems. However, they can also be limiting in other situations, as they can prevent individuals from considering alternative solutions or approaches.
To overcome mental sets, it is important for individuals to be aware of their own cognitive biases and to actively seek out and consider alternative viewpoints and approaches. This may involve using techniques such as brainstorming, seeking feedback from others, or using lateral thinking or other creative problem-solving approaches.