Show me the pictures: The effect of representational modalities on abductive reasoning in decision making

Sarah Arntz, Ruben Verbaan, Boris Eisenbart, Carlos Coimbra Cardoso

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


    This paper describes a study designed to investigate the effect of concept representation types on the use of abductive reasoning by decision makers when selecting early stage innovation concepts for further development. According to prior research, abductive reasoning can be instrumental to decision makers in terms of generating testable hypotheses about an innovation concept's future developments into concrete, viable product or service offerings. It has furthermore been linked with an increase in project acceptance rates. Here, an experiment is described testing whether visual concept representations promotes higher levels of abductive reasoning than textual concept representations or a combination of visuals and text. The results show that when purely visual concept representations were used, the participants showed a significant higher level of abductive reasoning than when this visual representation was complemented with text. This has managerial implications pertaining to how innovation concepts could/should be presented to selection committees or individuals in companies seeking to increase the amount of innovation projects that pass through a first screening process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED17)
    Subtitle of host publicationHuman Behaviour in Design
    EditorsA. Maier, S. Škec, H. Kim, M. Kokkolaras, J. Oehmen, G. Fadel, F. Salustri, M. van der Loos
    PublisherThe Design Society
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-904670-96-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventICED17: 21st International Conference on Engineering Design - Vancouver, Canada
    Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017

    Publication series

    NumberDS 87-8
    ISSN (Electronic)2220-4342




    • Abductive reasoning
    • Case study
    • Decision making
    • Innovation

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