Design fixation to examples: A study on the time decay of fixation

DS 87-8 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 8: Human Behaviour in Design, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Viswanathan, Vimal Kumar
Series: ICED
Institution: San Jose State University, United States of America
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 179-188
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


When designers fixate during an idea generation session, they replicate the features of any available example or their prior ideas. This paper presents an empirical study to understand the variation in number of novel ideas generated by designers during an idea generation session. Two research questions are investigated (1) Do number of ideas decay over time? and (2) does the fixation to an example design decay over time? A controlled experiment with two conditions using a peanut sheller design problem investigates these two questions. The participants in one condition are given a pictorial example in addition to the design problem statement. The percentage decrement in new ideas is explored as a function of time in both conditions. The results show a decrement in the percentage of new ideas over time. This result is in agreement with some of the prior studies. The quantity of new ideas also shows a very similar trend. However, the ideas derived from example in the Fixation group do not show this decay. In essence, these results show that when an example is available participants remain fixated to the example throughout the session and the fixation effects do not decay over time.

Keywords: Human behaviour in design, Design cognition, Design theory, Design fixation


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