The effects of biological examples in idea generation

Jamal O. Wilson, David Rosen, Brent A. Nelson, Jeannette Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


In engineering design, analogies can be used in conceptual design to aid in generating new and novel design ideas. In this paper, a cognitive study was performed to assess the impact of biological examples, which serve as surface dissimilar analogies, in the idea generation process during conceptual design. In this study, participants were exposed to biological examples during the idea generation process. These results were then compared to those of participants receiving no examples and to those receiving human-engineered examples. The results suggest that exposure to biological examples in idea generation can increase the novelty of design ideas generated after exposure without inhibiting the variety of the design ideas generated, unlike human-engineered examples which resulted in decreased variety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-186
Number of pages18
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • conceptual design
  • creative design
  • design techniques
  • evaluation
  • innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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