Research in new product design still lacks an understanding of how the types of information used by designers can lead to more successful designs and what cognitive components are involved in the process of generating new ideas. Some theories have arisen that focus on memory usage that could have an impact in idea generation early on in the design process. As a first step to address this gap, an Information Archetypes Framework was developed in previous work to outline the different dimensions and levels of information commonly used by designers. This framework forms the basis of the current study, focused on identifying the underlying cognitive processes that are active during the design process. To accomplish this, undergraduate students were recruited from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. During the study, participants were presented a design problem, given information pieces that corresponded to the Information Archetypes Framework, and asked to generate ideas for a solution. Students were then asked to recall the information pieces from memory. Participants’ data were analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) for relevant cognitive mechanisms. Scores from LIWC captured the linguistic properties of information pieces and generated ideas, and this study was able to demonstrate that memory usage has both semantic and linguistic components that emerge during the conceptual design process.

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