Advertisement

A Theoretical Approach to Intuition in Design: Does Design Methodology Need to Account for Unconscious Processes?

  • Petra Badke-Schaub
  • Ozgur Eris
Chapter

Abstract

Design theory is the body of knowledge that provides an understanding of the principles, practices, and procedures of design. That knowledge leads to hypotheses on how designers should work, which constitute the basis of the prescriptive part of design methodology. Decision making is one of the central design activities, and has been predominantly conceptualized as a structured, explicit, and rational thinking process in the literature. From this knowledge, various decision support methods have been developed. However, there is rich empirical evidence highlighting unconscious and mainly inaccessible processes that allow the designer to make quick and often effective decisions without building on explicit rationale. Given designers construct, apply, and internalize knowledge in a variety of different situations and time frames in their daily work, advocating the use of explicit and structured processes in all situations seems unrealistic. This claim implies that comprehensive design theories need to take into account unconscious processes such as intuition. From a methodological perspective, design methods should acknowledge the designer’s need to rely on intuition in certain situations—especially under time pressure. At a more advanced level, design methods should support the designer in assessing the limitations and benefits of utilizing intuitive approaches. In order to broaden the mono-disciplinary view, it would be beneficial to utilize knowledge from other disciplines such as relevant findings of neurophysiological research on the processes of the unconscious. For instance, in the early 1990s, neurophysiologists identified a group of nerve cells that are responsible for transmitting a signal when the brain detects an error before the person is even aware of the error. Connecting this type of information with the world of the designer might lead to advances in how designers relate to and manage their own processes.

Keywords

Rational decision making Design intuition Design process Methodology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the industrial design engineering master’s students of the DTM course at Delft University of Technology, who helped to collect the data referenced in the empirical dimension of this work. We would also like to thank the reviewers for their valuable feedback.

References

  1. 1.
    Ahmed S, Wallace KM, Blessing LT (2003) Understanding the differences between how novice and experienced designers approach design tasks. Res Eng Des 14:1–11Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Badke-Schaub P, Daalhuizen J, Roozenburg N (2011) Towards a designer-centred methodology: descriptive considerations and prescriptive reflections. In: Birkhofer H (ed) The future of design methodology. Springer, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cross N (1999) Natural intelligence in design. Des Stud 20(1):25–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cross N (2004) Expertise in design: an overview. Des Stud 25(5):427–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dane E, Pratt MG (2007) Exploring intuition and its role in managerial decision making. Acad Manag Rev 32(1):33–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dreyfus HL, Dreyfus SE (1986) Mind over machine: the power of human intuition and expertise in the era of the computer. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Evans J. St. BT (1984) Heuristic and analytic processing in reasoning. Br J Psychol 75:451–468Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Evans J (2003) In two minds: dual-process accounts of reasoning. Trends Cognit Sci 7:10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Evans J (2012) Questions and challenged for the new psychology of reasoning. Think Reason 18:5–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Freud S (1953) The interpretation of dreams. In: Strachey J (Ed. & Trans.) The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, vols 4 and 5. Hogarth (Original work published 1900), LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gigerenzer G (2007) Gut feelings. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gunther J, Ehrlenspiel K (1999) Comparing designers from practice and designers with systematic design education. Des Stud 20(5):439–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    James W (1950) The principles of psychology. Dover. Original work published 1890), New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Heiman GW (2002) Research methods in psychology, 3rd edn. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston & New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hermanns W (1983) Albert Einstein, Einstein and the poet: in search of the cosmic man. Brandon Books, BrooklineGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hubka V, Eder WE (1988) Theory of technical systems; a total concept theory for engineering design. Springer, Berlin (Translation of V. Hubka, Theorie Technischer Systeme. Berlin: Springer, 1984)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kahneman D (2003) A perspective on judgment and choice. Am Psychol 58:697–720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Khatri N, Ng HA (2000) The role of intuition in strategic decision making. Hum Relat 53(1):57–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Klein G (2003) The power of intuition: How to use your gut feelings to make better decisions at work. Random House Digital, IncGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rittel H, Webber M (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences 4:155–169 (Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Inc, Amsterdam)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pascal B (1958) Pensees, intro. TS Eliot, New York, DuttonGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sadler-Smith E (2008) The role of intuition in collective learning and the development of shared meaning. Adv Dev Hum Resour 10(4): 494–508Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Schön DA (1983) The reflective practitioner. How professionals think in action. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Simon HA (1972) Theories of bounded rationality. Decision and organization 1:161–176Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Simon HA (1973) The structure of ill-structured problems. Artif Intell 4:181–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sloman SA (1996) The empirical case for two systems of reasoning. Psychol Bull 119:3–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Stanovich KE, West RF (2000) Individual difference in reasoning: implications for the rationality debate? Behav Brain Sci 23:645–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Tversky A, Kahneman D (1973) Availability: a heuristic for judging frequency and probability. Cognit Psychol 42:207–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Tversky A, Kahneman D (1974) Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science 27:1124–1131Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Vaughan FE (1979) Awakening intuition. Doubleday, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Visser W (2009) Design: one but in different forms. Des Stud 30:187–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
    Wessel J, Danielmeier C, Morton JB, Ullsperger M (2012) Surprise and error: common neuronal architecture for the processing of errors and novelty. J Neurosci 32:7528–7537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yang MC (2005) A study of prototypes, design activity, and design outcome. Design Studies 26(6): 649–669Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations