Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

The Effects of Gender and Idea Goodness on Ownership Bias in Engineering Design Education

[+] Author and Article Information
Christine A. Toh

Department of Industrial and
Manufacturing Engineering,
The Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA 16802
e-mail: christinetoh@psu.edu

Andrew A. Strohmetz

Department of Industrial and
Manufacturing Engineering,
The Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA 16802
e-mail: aas5631@psu.edu

Scarlett R. Miller

School of Engineering Design,
Technology and Professional Programs,
The Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA 16802
e-mail: shm13@psu.edu

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received January 15, 2016; final manuscript received May 12, 2016; published online August 30, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Katja Holtta-Otto.

J. Mech. Des 138(10), 101105 (Aug 30, 2016) (8 pages) Paper No: MD-16-1038; doi: 10.1115/1.4034107 History: Received January 15, 2016; Revised May 12, 2016

Concept selection is a critical stage of the engineering design process because of its potential to influence the direction of the final design. While formalized selection methods have been developed to increase its effectiveness and reduce human decision-making biases, research that understands these biases in more detail can provide a foundation for improving the selection process. One important bias that occurs during this process is ownership bias or an unintentional preference for an individual's own ideas over the ideas of others. However, few studies have explored ownership bias in a design setting and the influence of other factors such as the gender of the designer or the “goodness” of an idea. In order to understand the impact of these factors in engineering design education, a study was conducted with 110 engineering students. The results from this study show that male students tend to show ownership bias during concept selection by selecting more of their own ideas while female students tend to show the opposite bias, the Halo Effect, by selecting more of their team members' concepts. In addition, participants exhibited ownership bias for ideas that were considered good or high quality, but the opposite bias for ideas that were not considered good or high quality. These results add to our understanding of the factors that impact team concept selection and provide empirical evidence of the occurrence of ownership bias and the effects of gender and idea goodness in engineering design education.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Example concepts sketched by Participant N02ER to address the greenhouse grid design task

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Fig. 2

Example concept assessment sheet completed by Participant E13WN

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Fig. 3

Percentage of total ideas selected for male and female participants, categorized by idea ownership

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Fig. 4

Percentage of total ideas selected for ideas that have low Goodness scores (<0.5), and high Goodness scores (>0.5), categorized by idea ownership



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