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Overcoming design fixation: Design by analogy studies and nonintuitive findings

  • Diana P. Moreno (a1), Luciënne T. Blessing (a1), Maria C. Yang (a2), Alberto A. Hernández (a3) and Kristin L. Wood (a4)...

Design fixation is a phenomenon with important significance to many fields of design due to the potential negative impacts it may have in design outcomes, especially during the ideation stage of the design process. The present study aims to provide a framework for understanding, or at least probing, design fixation by presenting a review of existing defixation approaches, as well as metrics that have been employed to understand and account for design fixation. This study also describes the results of two design by analogy (DbA) methods, WordTree and SCAMPER, to overcome design fixation in an experiment that involved 97 knowledge-domain experts. The study outcomes are at least twofold: a common framework of metrics and approaches to overcome design fixation in a wide range of design problems and nonintuitive results for DbA approaches in design fixation and other related creativity metrics. The application of WordTree and SCAMPER shows that both methods yield increased novelty compared to a control, where the SCAMPER results are significantly higher than WordTree. It is also found that WordTree mitigates design fixation whereas SCAMPER appears to be ineffective for this purpose but effective to generate an increased quantity of novel ideas. These results demonstrate that both DbA methods provide de-fixation capabilities and enhance designers’ creativity during idea generation.

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to: Diana P. Moreno, Research Unit in Engineering Science, Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication, University of Luxembourg, 6 Rue Richard Coudenhouve Kalergi, Luxembourg. E-mail:
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