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The persistence of analogies in design decision-making

Hassard, S.; (2011) The persistence of analogies in design decision-making. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Previous theories of design decision-making have discussed how designers use analogical reasoning to quickly scope the solution space down to one viable solution. This initial analogy forms the template of a possible action plan that is then modified to suit the unique properties of that particular problem. This use of analogical reasoning allows designers to quickly engage with the problem and generate a workable solution. Our findings indicate that this initial analogy actually persists across all stages of decision-making, and does not play a role solely during the first stage of scoping. This analogical persistence leads to poorer design decisions. This thesis presents a series of studies that adopt a mixed method approach to investigating the influence of analogies on the decision-making of Interaction Designers. We employed qualitative methods such as the Critical Decision Method for Eliciting Knowledge (Klein, 1989), which aided in identifying analogical persistence as a problem that leads to poorer quality decisions. We also employed quantitative methods such as the Design Fixation paradigm (Jansson & Smith, 1991) to investigate how different types of analogies (self-generated & provided Priming Analogies) can influence the expression of analogical persistence. Finally in an attempt to mitigate the potential pitfalls of analogical persistence, this thesis attempts to control it using principles from Design Rationale (Lee & Lai, 1991) and Reflection (Schon, 1983). Rather than seeing a decrease in analogical persistence, our manipulation actually increased fixation. A follow-up study identified that designers tend to poorly appraise the weaknesses in the initial analogy, which may have led to the aforementioned unexpected result. These findings challenge the notion that greater understanding of the design space will lead to higher quality design decisions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The persistence of analogies in design decision-making
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > UCL Interaction Centre
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1318083
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