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Effects of Dichotomous Lexical Stimuli in Concept Generation

[+] Author Affiliations
I. Chiu, L. H. Shu

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Paper No. DETC2008-49372, pp. 149-159; 11 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


The relationship between language and reasoning motivates us to study the use of language within engineering design. This paper describes our continued investigation of language as stimuli for concept generation. Specifically we investigate dichotomous lexical stimuli that are related to the problem in either a disagreeing, incongruent manner or in an agreeing, congruent manner. This is a follow-up investigation where we extend previous experiments to include both congruent and incongruent stimuli to enable comparison of differences between designer behavior and concepts. A between-subjects think-aloud experiment was performed where participants were presented with a problem and asked to generate concepts to address the problem. Half the participants were provided with incongruent stimuli and the remaining were provided with congruent stimuli. Participants provided with incongruent stimuli used the stimulus words as verbs more often than the participants provided with congruent stimuli. Verbs possess several properties desirable for use as design stimuli including the increased introduction of new lexicalized concepts to the concept generation process. When two independent raters scored the concepts, there was a positive correlation between the raters that concepts developed with incongruent stimuli were more novel. Understanding the effects of different lexical stimulus types on concept generation contributes to the development of design support tools that exploit the relationship between language and reasoning to increase design novelty.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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