Counterfactual Problem Solving and Situated Cognition



The paper describes and interprets data of a study on counterfactual problem solving in representatives of modern industrial culture. The study was inspired by similar experiments carried out by A.R. Luria during his expedition to Central Asia. The hypothesis of our study was that representatives of modern industrial culture would solve counterfactual puzzles at a slower rate and with higher numbers of mistakes than similar non-counterfactual tasks. The experiments we conducted supported this hypothesis as well as provided us with some insights as to how to further develop it. For instance, we found no significant differences in time lag in solving counterfactual and ‘realistic’ tasks between the subjects with mathematical and the ones with liberal arts education. As an interpretation of the obtained data, we suggest a two-stage model of counterfactual problem solving: on the first stage, where situated cognition dominates, the realistic situation is transferred into the system of symbols unrelated to this very situation; on the second stage, operations are carried out within the framework of this new system of symbols.

General Information

Keywords: counterfactual tasks, situated cognition, two-stage model

Journal rubric: Empirical Research


For citation: Glebkin V.V., Kovtunenko A.Y., Krysova Y.A. Counterfactual Problem Solving and Situated Cognition. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2017. Vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 41–49. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2017130205. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Vladimir V. Glebkin, PhD in Philosophy, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies and Social Communication, Institute of Social Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Head of the Department of Theory and History of World Culture, Gymnasium #1514, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Aleksandr Y. Kovtunenko, Student, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Yekaterina A. Krysova, Student, Gymnasium #1514, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



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