What are examples of functional fixation

Functional bond

Functional attachment describes the tendency of people to see things exclusively in terms of their usual function. This can be an obstacle to coping with the problem. is. The existing function of an element of the environment is already so well anchored within the task that the change necessary to solve it causes considerable difficulties for people. Karl Duncker (1935), for example, asked test subjects to attach a candle to a door. Matches and a box filled with thumbtacks were available. Since the test subjects only viewed the box as a container, it did not occur to them to empty it and use the thumbtacks to pin it to the door in order to serve as the base for the candle. Generally speaking, our thinking about things seems to be channeled.

The functional bond usually arises from the fact that an object is used very often for a specific problem solution for a specific purpose and remains fixated on this function. As a result, there is then no availability for another possible function or another problem solution.

By the way, there is also the phenomenon that for some people who own a hammer, everything in their environment becomes a nail!

The term was coined by Karl Dunckerwho, until the dissolution of the Psychological Institute in 1935, was a student and employee of the founder of the Gestalt Psychology of the Berlin School, Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka. Karl Duncker was born in Leipzig in 1903. The Nazis forbade him to do his habilitation because his father was a communist. That is why he emigrated to the USA in 1935. He died there in 1940 at the age of only 37. Duncker was one of the most important representatives of the Gestalt theory. He publishes important works on productive thinking and creative problem-solving processes, on the critique of behaviorism, on the phenomenology of feelings and sensations, and on the psychology of ethics. In 1934 he found a job in exile in England, in Cambridge with Frederic Charles Bartlett and was then from Wolfgang Kohler appointed to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.


Duncker, Karl (1935). On the psychology of productive thinking. Berlin: Springer.
Stangl, W. (2018). Analog closing, control systems. [werner stangl] s worksheets.
WWW: https://arbeitsblaetter.stangl-taller.at/DENKENTWICKLUNG/Regeln-Denken.shtml (2018-09-03).

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