Show me the pictures: The effect of representational modalities on abductive reasoning in decision making

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: Arntz, Sarah; Verbaan, Ruben; Eisenbart, Boris; Cardoso, Carlos
Series: ICED
Institution: Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 399-408
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


This paper describes a study designed to investigate the effect of concept representation types on the use of abductive reasoning by decision makers when selecting early stage innovation concepts for further development. According to prior research, abductive reasoning can be instrumental to decision makers in terms of generating testable hypotheses about an innovation concept’s future developments into concrete, viable product or service offerings. It has furthermore been linked with an increase in project acceptance rates. Here, an experiment is described testing whether visual concept representations promotes higher levels of abductive reasoning than textual concept representations or a combination of visuals and text. The results show that when purely visual concept representations were used, the participants showed a significant higher level of abductive reasoning than when this visual representation was complemented with text. This has managerial implications pertaining to how innovation concepts could/should be presented to selection committees or individuals in companies seeking to increase the amount of innovation projects that pass through a first screening process.

Keywords: Decision making, Innovation, Abductive reasoning, Case study


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