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id 1b10
authors Bay, Joo-Hwa
year 2001
title Cognitive Biases - The case of tropical architecture
source Delft University of Technology
summary This dissertation investigates, i) How cognitive biases (or illusions) may lead to errors in design thinking, ii) Why architects use architectural precedents as heuristics despite such possible errors, and iii) Develops a design tool that can overcome this type of errors through the introduction of a rebuttal mechanism. The mechanism controls biases and improves accuracy in architectural thinking. // The research method applied is interdisciplinary. It employs knowledge from cognitive science, environmental engineering, and architectural theory. The case study approach is also used. The investigation is made in the case of tropical architecture. The investigation of architectural biases draws from work by A. Tversky and D. Kahneman in 1982 on “Heuristics and biases”. According to Tversky and Kahneman, the use of heuristics of representativeness (based on similarity) and availability (based on ease of recall and imaginability) for judgement of probability can result in cognitive biases of illusions of validity and biases due to imaginability respectively. This theory can be used analogically to understand how errors arise in the judgement of environmental behaviour anticipated from various spatial configurations, leading to designs with dysfunctional performances when built. Incomplete information, limited time, and human mental resources make design thinking in practice difficult and impossible to solve. It is not possible to analyse all possible alternative solutions, multiple contingencies, and multiple conflicting demands, as doing so will lead to combinatorial explosion. One of the ways to cope with the difficult design problem is to use precedents as heuristic devices, as shortcuts in design thinking, and at the risk of errors. This is done with analogical, pre-parametric, and qualitative means of thinking, without quantitative calculations. Heuristics can be efficient and reasonably effective, but may not always be good enough or even correct, because they can have associated cognitive biases that lead to errors. Several debiasing strategies are discussed, and one possibility is to introduce a rebuttal mechanism to refocus the designer’s thinking on the negative and opposite outcomes in his judgements, in order to debias these illusions. The research is carried out within the framework of design theory developed by the Design Knowledge System Research Centre, TUDelft. This strategy is tested with an experiment. The results show that the introduction of a rebuttal mechanism can debias and improve design judgements substantially in environmental control. The tool developed has possible applications in design practice and education, and in particular, in the designing of sustainable environments.
keywords Design bias; Design knowledge; Design rebuttal; Design Precedent; Pre-parametric design; Tropical architecture; Sustainability
series thesis:PhD
type normal paper
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