Identifying divergent design thinking through the observable behavior of service design novices

  • Ying HuEmail author
  • Xing Du
  • Nick Bryan-Kinns
  • Yinman Guo


Design thinking holds the key to innovation processes, but is often difficult to detect because of its implicit nature. We undertook a study of novice designers engaged in team-based design exercises in order to explore the correlation between design thinking and designers’ physical (observable) behavior and to identify new, objective, design thinking identification methods. Our study addresses the topic by using data collection method of “think aloud” and data analysis method of “protocol analysis” along with the unconstrained concept generation environment. Collected data from the participants without service design experience were analyzed by open and selective coding. Through the research, we found correlations between physical activity and divergent thinking, and also identified physical behaviors that predict a designer’s transition to divergent thinking. We conclude that there are significant relations between designers’ design thinking and the behavioral features of their body and face. This approach opens possible new ways to undertake design process research and also design capability evaluation.


Design thinking Behavior recognition Novices Service design Concept generation 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of DesignHunan UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.School of Electronic Engineering and Computer ScienceQueen Mary, University of LondonLondonUK

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