Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lisa L. Scherer

Second Advisor

Joseph C. LaVoie

Third Advisor

Roni Reiter-Palmon


This study investigated the effects of problem structuring and anxiety on the quantity and quality of solutions generated for ill-structured, complex problems. Trait anxiety, the tendency to feel anxious across a wide variety of situations, has been shown to impair problem solving performance in certain conditions. Trait anxiety was examined as a possible moderator of the relationship between problem structuring and solution generation. Participants were 184 undergraduate psychology students. Participants completed a trait anxiety measure (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; Spielberger, 1983) and generated solutions to an ill-structured problem, with varying levels of structuring (no objectives, one-objective-at-a-time, conflicting objectives). The quantity and resolving power of solutions generated was assessed by raters. Participants in the one-objective-at-a-time condition generated more solutions than those in the no objectives condition or the conflicting objectives condition, as predicted. Contrary to hypothesis, trait anxiety did not moderate the relationship between problem structuring and solution generation.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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