Engineering idea generation plays a vital role in the development of novel products. Prior studies have shown that designers fixate to the features of example solutions and replicate these features in their ideas. This type of fixation acts as a major hindrance in idea generation, as it restricts the solution space where designers search for their ideas. Building upon the study by Linsey et al. [2010, “A Study of Design Fixation, Its Mitigation and Perception in Engineering Design Faculty,” ASME Trans. J. Mech. Des., 132, 041003], this study hypothesizes that designers fixate to example features and this fixation can be mitigated using certain defixation materials including alternate representations of the design problem. To investigate this, the experiment conducted by Linsey et al.  with engineering design faculty is replicated with novice designers. Participants generate ideas for a design problem in three groups: one group working with a fixating example, a second group working with the same example along with alternate representations of the design problem and a control group. The obtained results show that both the novice designers and design faculty fixate to the same extent, whereas the defixation materials have differential effect on the two groups. This result indicates that design researchers need to be very careful in developing methods and guidelines that are formulated and tested with studies on novice designers. The effectiveness of such measures may vary with the level of expertise of the designer.
Design Fixation and Its Mitigation: A Study on the Role of Expertise
Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received July 11, 2012; final manuscript received March 19, 2013; published online April 25, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Jonathan Cagan.
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Viswanathan, V. K., and Linsey, J. S. (April 25, 2013). "Design Fixation and Its Mitigation: A Study on the Role of Expertise." ASME. J. Mech. Des. May 2013; 135(5): 051008. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4024123
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