Confirmation and Cognitive Bias in Design Cognition

Gregory M. Hallihan, Hyunmin Cheong, L. H. Shu

ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
2012

Abstract

The desire to better understand design cognition has led to the application of literature from psychology to design research, e.g., in learning, analogical reasoning, and problem solving. Psychological research on cognitive heuristics and biases offers another relevant body of knowledge for application. Cognitive biases are inherent biases in human information processing, which can lead to suboptimal reasoning. Cognitive heuristics are unconscious rules utilized to enhance the efficiency of information processing and are possible antecedents of cognitive biases. This paper presents two studies that examined the role of confirmation bias, which is a tendency to seek and interpret evidence in order to confirm existing beliefs. The results of the first study, a protocol analysis involving novice designers engaged in a biomimetic design task, indicate that confirmation bias is present during concept generation and offer additional insights into the influence of confirmation bias in design. The results of the second study, a controlled experiment requiring participants to complete a concept evaluation task, suggest that decision matrices are effective tools to reduce confirmation bias during concept evaluation.

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