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Overcoming Blocks in Conceptual Design: The Effects of Open Goals and Analogical Similarity on Idea Generation

[+] Author Affiliations
Ian Tseng, Jonathan Cagan, Kenneth Kotovsky

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Jarrod Moss

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Paper No. DETC2008-49276, pp. 3-9; 7 pages
  • ASME 2008 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 20th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Second International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Brooklyn, New York, USA, August 3–6, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4328-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3831-5
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


Designers have been known to seek analogical inspiration during design ideation. This paper presents an experiment that studies the types of analogies that most impact design creativity, as well as the time during problem solving when it is most effective to seek such analogical stimulation. This experiment showed that new information that was highly similar to the problem affected problem solving even if the information was given before problem solving began. On the other hand, new information that was distantly related to the problem only affected problem solving when it was presented during a break after problem solving had already begun. These results support the idea that open goals increase the likelihood that distantly related information become incorporated into problem solving. Functional principles found in the problem-relevant information given were also found to prime solutions in corresponding categories.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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