Method for Understanding Deep Thought in Design

Year: 2011
Author: Mohd Yusof, Nor Fasiha
Supervisor: Taura, Toshiharu
Institution: Graduate School of Engineering, Kobe University
Page(s): 150


Creative nature of human’s thought has been the focus of a large number of studies in the field of design. Most studies have been discussed within the framework of goal-oriented problem solving, which is discussed as ‘pull-type’ approach of design process. In contrast, this study focused on the ‘push type’, where a design idea is created (pushed) from within the designer, by the ‘something’ that deeply underlies the mind. When discussing human thought, individuals are commonly said to have their own peculiar thought, backboned by their background including knowledge, personality, environment, and so on. Likewise, in design, each designer must possesses peculiar thought in their design activities. The belief, however, comes from the observation on seen behaviors such as task performance or reactions. When discussing about human thought, on the other hand, there must exist unexpressed thoughts and unconscious cognitive processes. These kind of unseen behavior, also, might be different in each individual; however, there might exist some essential ‘something’ that rules the governance of thoughts generating different external behaviors. On the basis of this argument, this study assumes that there might exist an essential pattern in a deeper level of human thought, and aims at finding an effective thought pattern for creativity, that is, the thought pattern that may relates to high creativity. In addition, this research also tries to capture effective thought pattern for human’s preference, that is, the way how a human form good impressions on design. Many studies have focused on the thought pattern and various factors affecting design output have been extracted from these studies. The methods are affective and widely applied in studies to understand thoughts, particularly in design. However, the methods take into consideration only explicit thoughts; only the expressed words, concepts, or expressions are used for analysis. In other words, it is only surface analysis. On a different view, for understanding human’s or user’s thought on the design of a product, several methods have been proposed. The most general method is the Semantic Differential (SD) Method. This widely-applied method focuses on quantitatively measure user’s thought on products by using words and scales provided in answer form; thus, it is also considered as a surface analysis. Based on the above discussion, this research aims at finding effective thought pattern that may relates to creativity in design, by capturing ‘deep thought’, that is, the thought that underlie the surface thought. In addition, this research also tries to find thought pattern that differentiate human’s preference on design. However, it is difficult to objectively observe the process of deep thought, whether externally or internally. Even though many methods for capturing thought have been proposed, still, it is substantially difficult to observe the design thought when the designers are deeply engaged in their work. To surmount this issue, three potential methodologies to design research have been introduced, namely, internal observation, computational simulation, and theoretical modeling. This research applies the computational simulation method, by paying attention on the associations between concepts. Using this method, the thoughts are assumed to be reproducible, and the desirable effective thought pattern could be determined. In this study, a virtual thought network is constructed from a large semantic network. By transferring the semantic network on a computer and searching the thought process on it, the proposed method may be possible to exceed the typical simulation of thought that uses knowledge limited beforehand. By applying the computational simulation method, this study tries to capture deep thought by using two approaches: ‘inexplicit concepts’ and ‘structure of thought’. Inexplicit concepts are discussed as the concepts that are not explicitly recognized or verbalized. A human doesn’t express all his/her thought explicitly. Even if required to do so, for instance for experiment purpose, it is difficult for him/her to express everything in his/her mind. His/her focus might been changed on explicitly express his/her thought, much less on the design. And after all, certain inexplicit concepts always exist in his/her thought. This refers to the issue of surface analysis. In this research, inexplicitness is assumed to address the issue. Structure of thought is discussed as ‘something’ that plays the role of the whole thought. In attempts to capture the ‘something’, this study focus on structure of thought and assume that the structure can play the role of the whole thought. The thought pattern refers to the characteristics of the structure of thought, and an effective thought pattern for creativity is that related to creativity in design. This study is advanced by three main studies: thought in design process, thought at initial stage of design, and thought that a user holds on the design of a product. The first research applies the process of concept generation in design. The second one focuses on mood states of a designer before performing a design task. The last one gives attention on impressions which a user derives from the design of products. To capture the deep thoughts, the methods of constructing and analyzing virtual thoughts are proposed.
In the first study, a method for modeling concept generation process in design was proposed. As an exemplar of the concept generation process, the process of synthesizing two concepts is addressed; this is because it is the simplest and the most essential process in formulating a new concept from the existing ones. The virtual thought process was explored in a semantic network by tracing the paths among concepts. Then, the structure of the virtual thought process was extracted using network theory, and its correlation creativity was analyzed. The significant correlation suggests the existence of an effective thought pattern in design process. Based on the same modeling method, the latter two studies were conducted. In design, some researchers in design creativity have suggested that the designer’s thought at early stage of design have main effect to the creativity of design output. The second study attempts to capture deep thoughts at the beginning stage of design, by focusing on mood states. Mood states are focused because moods are of particular importance in organizational behavior since they are more common, longer lasting, and less noticeable than other kinds of affective states. A method for modeling a virtual mood network was proposed. Significant effects of mood states on creativity, as well as on the structural characteristics of the network were revealed. The findings suggest that an effective thought pattern may exist at earlier stage of design process. Nowadays, the user’s cognitive interpretation of the designed product has been focused on as an essential factor for customer satisfaction. The third study examines deep thoughts that a user holds on the design of a product, by focusing on the way the user forms impressions. Based on the same modeling method, a method for constructing virtual impression networks was proposed in order to capture the nature of deep impressions. The findings indicate that it is possible to explain the difference between feelings of ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ using several indicators in the network theory of virtual impression networks. This also suggests the existence of effective thought pattern that may characterize the process of forming user’s impressions. The studies conducted in this research suggest that human’s thought, even though it might be different for each individual, is in beneath laid by some essential common pattern. The findings can serve as important guidelines for the development of methodologies in supporting design creativity and education.

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