Title: The role of timing and analogical similarity in the stimulation of idea generation in design
An experiment was conducted to gain an understanding of how people assimilate and apply newly acquired information when ideating solutions to a design problem by studying how the nature of problem-relevant information and timing of when it is given can affect idea generation in an open-ended design problem. More specifically, the effects of presenting surface similar information before design conceptualization, or surface dissimilar information before and during design conceptualization on the quantity, breadth, and novelty of solutions generated were analyzed. The effects of open goals, fixation, and priming, as well as their implications in design problem solving are examined. Itwasfound that information that is more distantly related to the design problem impacted idea generation more when there was an open goal to solve the problem, while information that is more obviously similar to the problem impacted idea generation more than distantly related information when seen before problem solving has begun. Evidence of induced design fixation and priming were also observed.
The "purpose" constraint of analogy-making as described here really maps well onto Ian, Ken, and Jared's work with open goals @tsengRoleTimingAnalogical2008, and also with Chris and Bo's stuff looking at the Opportunistic Assimilation Theory. The "purpose" constraint is an elegant heuristic for pruning the space of "slots" to consider in mapping source to target.
This view of analogical inspiration draws on the existing literature on analogy and problem-solving, where analogies benefit problem-solving in domains such as math and insight problem-solving according to the following general process: a problem-solver faces some target problem for which he does not currently see a solution for, maps a source problem-with-solution to the target problem via analogy, and transfers and adapts the solution to the target problem (Gentner et al, 2009; Gick & Holyoak, 1983; Novick & Holyoak, 1991). There is little doubt that this is an important part of the story: much work has shown that this basic process can and does support innovation in design (Casakin & Goldschmidt, 1999; Dahl & Moreau, 2002; Helms et al, 2007; Linsey et al, 2007, 2008; Tseng et al, 2008). For instance, Linsey and colleagues (2007) showed how design students who had previously encountered an inflatable mattress product were able to spontaneously use this analogy to solve the problem of designing portable dumbbells. Also, Gero and colleagues (Gero & Kazakov, 1998; Kulinksi & Gero, 2001) have constructed computational simulations of direct transfer of solution concepts via analogy.