Design researchers must think fast and slow
Brain science research offers some surprising insights to guide research practice. These findings suggest that the scientific method limits our natural creativity. Usually, researchers get their cues from the scientific method. While this method has certainly changed the world and our knowledge of it, it is contrary to the creative needs of a well-rounded researcher. It is especially problematic for design research, which requires innovative solutions to existing problems.
Design researchers should embrace less structure and openness in the early stages of product design, and rigor and structure in the mature stages of product sales. As sales decline and products lose their natural cultural fit, design researchers should once again embrace an openness in their approach to research.
In general, we think of research as the systematic, focused, time-based collection of data, consistent with a certain framework or theory. In this view, research aims to confirm or disprove the given hypotheses and gradually improve our knowledge about a certain topic.
However, we know from the book Thinking Fast and Slow that this research approach caters to only one type of thinking. author Daniel Kahneman Thinking Fast and Slow tells us that “Type 2” or “slow thinking” is disciplined, focused thinking that closely resembles the deductive reasoning of the scientific method and shapes. other traditional research methods. It is structured and intentional, requiring the cortex.
But Type 1, or “fast thinking,” is less structured, more instinctive, and involves more parts of the reptilian brain. At first glance, quick thinking seems undisciplined or even lazy – the antithesis of the scientific method. But fast thinking makes creative and intuitive leaps that cannot be achieved by slow iterative, deductive, and controlled thinking.
Study design both fast thinking and slow thinking. Fast thinking requires creating novel combinations, unusual interpretations or unique synthesis. Slow thinking requires systematic assessment and a structured contribution to a body of knowledge.
Gifted researchers engage in both fast thinking and slow thinking. As sociologist C. Wright Mills describes it, a researcher must have his or her “record,” which is an unstructured, messy, and disordered collection of files:
“…You’ll notice that there isn’t a single project that ever dominates [the files], or the set of major categories it’s organized in. In fact, using files encourages expanding the categories that you use in your thinking. And the way these categories change, some removed and others added – is an indicator of your progress and intellectual breadth. Finally, applications will be sorted by a number of major projects, many of which vary from year to year. [1, p. 3]”
Anthropologist Branislaw Malinowski echoes this disarray as he describes what would eventually become his masterpiece The Argonauts of the South Pacific:
“I estimate that my future publication will be massive, about three volumes of 500 pages, each of 500 words per page. It will take me about two years to prepare [the manuscript] and go through the press. My matter is now a jumble of musical notes. To find it and put it into the right theoretical framework is perhaps the most difficult, precise, and important stage of research. To solve it effectively, I have to spend all my time. ” [2, p. 582]
Malinowski realized that “chaotic note volume” had to be molded into a manuscript, but he struggled with disorder first. This is exactly what psychotherapist Rollo May describes as the “creative encounter” or unstructured time an artist (or researcher) spends on the subject of his or her research.
“The first thing we notice in a creative act is that it is an encounter . Artists encounter the landscape they propose to paint – they look at it, observe it from one angle and another. As we say, they are engrossed in it… Or scientists confront their experiments, laboratory tasks, in a similar encounter situation. ” [3, p. 39] Tr 39
Also consider the “common book,” or the kind of notebook that great thinkers like John Locke and Charles Darwin used to organize their thoughts. As creative author Stephen Johnson tells us, early modern readers don’t read in sequence, but jump around, setting the stage for creative connections.
“The tradition of the common book contains a central tension between order and chaos, between the desire to methodically arrange and the desire to create surprising new associations…. Every reread of the ordinary book becomes a new kind of revelation.” [4, pages 109–110]
In other words, researchers who allow themselves to read out of order, or collect without regard for structure, can make visual and creative leaps. But researchers who fail to methodically manage knowledge will not close the productive loop. Researchers need to think fast and think slowly. They need to think big and think narrowly. Type 1 and Type 2 thinking translates into 3 types of research: exploratory (thinking fast), evaluating (thinking fast and thinking slowly), and experimental (thinking slowly).
Often, social scientists specifically focus on “rigor” as a solution to good research. But rigor without creativity adds little to our collective knowledge. As Heideggerian scholar Carol Steiner argues, this “premeditated structure” – or predefined way of seeing the world – prevents us from conducting innovative research and creating innovative things. Instead, creative researchers, she found, are open to “Being,” or the possibility of experiencing, people and things revealing themselves to them.
read also: Thinking Fast And Slow Thinking
Carol J. Steiner
“The reformers I have studied seem at times to be attuned to the old understanding of the relationship between Being and man… Losing faith in the scientific method has allowed them to understand themselves as different from others. with knowledge of manufacturers . As a result, they often create an openness that allows them to have another world shine through for them, the public world. ” [5, p. 594]
In other words, researchers in particular must struggle against their “premium structure,” or extensive training in theory and methodology, that impedes their ability to learn. As Rollo May argues, being receptive does not mean lack of rigor.
“The acquisition of the artist [or researcher] must never be confused with passivity. Receptivity is the artist who keeps him or her alive and open to hearing what can be said. Such receptivity requires agility, a honed sensibility to allow oneself to be the vehicle of whatever vision may arise. [3, p. 80]”
Rigor must be introduced later – after the researcher broadens his horizons, after the researcher grapples with the complexity of the data and their inconsistencies. Rigor usually appears after a period of unconscious processing of data. Walking, playing, napping, and engaging in unstructured activity have all been shown to allow synthetic ideas to emerge.
Therefore, researchers should use the scientific method with caution. Know when you need rigor and when you need creativity.