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Re-examining the impact of analogies on ideation search patterns: Lessons from an in vivo study in engineering design

Chan, Chu Sern Joel (2012) Re-examining the impact of analogies on ideation search patterns: Lessons from an in vivo study in engineering design. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Decades of research on the cognitive science of innovation have consistently implicated the importance of analogy during creative ideation. While the association of analogies with innovative design concepts is clear, more work is needed to understand the specific mechanisms by which analogy might help designers generate such concepts. The present work employed detailed analysis of the temporal interplay between analogy use and ideation in the naturalistic brainstorming conversations of a real-world professional design team to test between competing hypotheses in the literature: (1) analogy supports innovation primarily via large steps in design spaces during concept generation (jumps), and (2) analogy supports innovation primarily via small steps (incremental search). In Study 1, self-generated analogies (including distant ones) were not systematically associated with jumps; on the contrary, concepts tended to be more similar to their precedents after analogy use in comparison to baseline situations (i.e., without analogy use). Study 2 found that the rate of concept generation was greater when associated with analogy in comparison to baseline conditions, suggesting that the effects observed in Study 1 were not due to an overall fixating effect of analogies. Overall, these results challenge the view that analogies help designers generate innovative concepts mainly via jumps in design spaces, and instead suggests that analogies primarily support incremental search. Theoretical implications and future directions for the cognitive science of analogy and innovation are discussed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chan, Chu Sern Joeljoc59@pitt.eduJOC59
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchunn, Christianschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN
Committee MemberNokes-Malach, Timothynokes@pitt.eduNOKES
Committee MemberKotovsky,
Committee MemberCagan,
Date: 19 September 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 January 2012
Approval Date: 19 September 2012
Submission Date: 10 August 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 50
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Analogy Design cognition Problem solving Creativity Ideation
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2012 18:30
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:01


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