Empirical studies of design ideation: Alignment of design experiments with lab experiments

Jami J. Shah, Noe Vargas-Hernandez, Steven M. Smith, David R. Gerkens, Muqi Wulan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

47 Scopus citations


Although various Idea Generation (IG) methods exist for conceptual design, the ideation process is still hardly understood. There is a need for a Design Ideation Model that explains the variables and processes occurring during IG. Cognitive Science provides models and theories, but these are usually derived from simple tasks or problems. On the other hand, Design Research simulates real world design better, but experimentation at the design level is time consuming and is difficult to isolate due to interactions of the variables involved. This paper introduces an approach for the alignment of experiments at the design level with lab experiments in cognitive psychology. Two key concepts that make this alignment possible are: ideation components (mechanisms believed to promote IG) recognized in Design Research and Cognitive Science, and uniform measures. The long-term objective of this research is the creation of a Design Ideation Model; this will require the testing and modeling of several of these ideation components. This paper presents results from Design and Lab Experiments for a selected component: incubation. Results are discussed and their significance explained in the context of the Design Ideation Model. This study found that, based on the correlation at both the Lab and Design Experiments, incubation had a positive impact on Design Ideation. Further, the alignment approach followed proved to be appropriate for the individual modeling of ideation components.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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