The Role of Individual Risk Attitudes on the Selection of Creative Concepts in Engineering Design

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Conference Proceeding

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While creativity is often seen as an indispensable quality of engineering design, individuals often select conventional or previously successful options during the concept selection process due to the inherent risk associated with creative concepts. Surprisingly, prior research has shown that this preference for conventional design alternatives is often done in an unconscious manner and is attributed to people’s inadvertent bias against creativity. While we know that designers may prematurely filter out creative ideas, little is actually known about what factors attribute to the promotion or filtering of these creative concepts during concept selection. The current paper describes an empirical study conducted with 19 first-year engineering students aimed at investigating the impact of individual risk aversion and ambiguity aversion on the selection and filtering of creative ideas during the concept selection process. The results from this study indicate that individual risk attitudes are related to both creative ability and creative concept selection. However, an individual’s ability to generate creative ideas was found to be unrelated to their preference for creative ideas during concept selection. These results add to our understanding of creativity during concept selection and provide guidelines for enhancing the design process to encourage design creativity.


ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, August 17-20, Buffalo, NY.