Design fixation is a major concern in engineering idea generation because it restricts the solution space in which designers search for their ideas. For designers to be more creative, it is essential to mitigate their fixation. The majority of studies in the literature investigate the role of pictorial stimuli in design fixation; however, the role of examples presented in other formats, including physical prototypes, is largely unknown. This paper presents a study that compares design fixation, in novice designers, caused by pictorial and physical representations. The effects of defixating materials proposed by Linsey et al. (2010) are also investigated. The results show that physical formats cause a higher magnitude of fixation than pictorial formats; however, participants utilizing physical examples produce a greater quantity of nonredundant ideas. Consistent with prior studies, the results also indicate that the defixation materials may not facilitate mitigation of novice designers' fixation.
Vimal Viswanathan and Julie Linsey. "Examining Design Fixation in Engineering Idea Generation: The Role of Example Modality" International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation (2013): 109-129. doi:10.1080/21650349.2013.774689