Cognitive Processing

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 255–272 | Cite as

Cognitive tools shape thought: diagrams in design

  • Jeffrey V. Nickerson
  • James E. Corter
  • Barbara Tversky
  • Yun-Jin Rho
  • Doris Zahner
  • Lixiu Yu
Research Report

Abstract

Thinking often entails interacting with cognitive tools. In many cases, notably design, the predominant tool is the page. The page allows externalizing, organizing, and reorganizing thought. Yet, the page has its own properties that by expressing thought affect it: path, proximity, place, and permanence. The effects of these properties were evident in designs of information systems created by students Paths were interpreted as routes through components. Proximity was used to group subsystems. Horizontal position on the page was used to express temporal sequence and vertical position to reflect real-world spatial position. The permanence of designs on the page guided but also constrained generation of alternative designs. Cognitive tools both reflect and affect thought.

Keywords

Diagrammatic reasoning Design Creativity Cognitive tool Affordance Spatial thinking Information systems design 

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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey V. Nickerson
    • 1
  • James E. Corter
    • 2
  • Barbara Tversky
    • 2
  • Yun-Jin Rho
    • 2
    • 4
  • Doris Zahner
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lixiu Yu
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Decision TechnologiesStevens Institute of TechnologyHobokenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development, Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Council for Aid to EducationNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Pearson EducationBostonUSA
  5. 5.Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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