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A Study on the Role of Expertise in Design Fixation and its Mitigation

[+] Author Affiliations
Vimal Viswanathan, Julie Linsey

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Paper No. DETC2012-71155, pp. 901-911; 11 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 9th International Conference on Design Education; 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4506-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Engineering idea generation plays a vital role in the development of novel products. Prior studies have shown that designers fixate to the features of example solutions and replicate these features in their ideas. This is a major hindrance in idea generation as it restricts the solution space where designers search for their ideas. This study hypothesizes that though expert designers fixate to example features, they still can outperform novices in terms of quantity of ideas as they have a larger set of knowledge acquired through their experience. To investigate this, the experimental by Linsey et al. is replicated for novice designers. Novices generate ideas for a design problem in three groups: one group working with a fixating example, a second group working with the same example along with alternate representations for the design problem and a control group only presented with the problem and no additional materials. The obtained results support the hypothesis. Both novice and expert designers are fixated to the example features, but the expert designers generated more nonredundant ideas. The alternate representations of the design problem help experts in mitigating their fixation, whereas in novices, these have no effect.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Design



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