Reducing and Perceiving Design Fixation: Initial Results from an NSF-Sponsored Workshop

DS 58-9: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 9, Human Behavior in Design, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Linsey, Julie; Tseng, Ian; Fu, Katherine; Cagan, Jonathan; Wood, Kristin
Series: ICED
Section: Human Behavior in Design
Page(s): 233-244


This study evaluated the effects of design fixation in a group of engineering design faculty, and also provides evidence for approaches to overcome design fixation. Three conditions were compared, a control, a fixation group whom were provided with an example solution and a defixation group whom were also given materials to reduce their design fixation. Measures included indications of design fixation and participant perceptions. This study also indicates that design fixation can be mitigated. This study demonstrates engineering design faculty show significant evidence of design fixation yet only partially perceive its effects. The group of participants in this study, due to their background in engineering design research and experience with student design teams, was expected to have more accurate perceptions of design fixation than the typical participant. Understanding the incongruities between participant perceptions and quantitative design outcomes are particularly of interest to researchers of design methods. For this study, evidence exists that designers, even those that study and teach design, do not know when they are being influenced or fixated by misleading information.

Keywords: fixation, analogy, creative design, design cognition


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