Characterizing the Effect of Domain Distance in Design-by-Analogy Conference Paper uri icon


  • Design-by-analogy is a powerful tool to generate novel ideas. The present work explores the use of distant-domain analogies. Analogies from distant domains have a greater potential to lead to innovative solutions. This study hypothesizes that distant domain analogies lead to more abstraction resulting in more creative designs. This was evaluated with a between-subjects experiment where 17 engineering students were presented a predetermined set of analogues then asked to solve a design problem. The analogues contained two sets of analogies: one from the problem domain and one from a domain of varying distance. It was observed that although designers deemed analogies from more distant domains as less useful and solutions generated using more distant domains less effective and less practical, an analysis of participants solutions found distant domains to be at least as useful as close domains. These trends warrant future experimentation with an increased sample size.

name of conference

  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference

published proceedings

  • Volume 9: 23rd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; 16th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference

author list (cited authors)

  • Lopez, R., Linsey, J. S., & Smith, S. M.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Lopez, Ricardo||Linsey, Julie S||Smith, Steven M

publication date

  • January 2011