Does Visual Fixation Affect Idea Fixation?

Does staring at a problem make it harder to solve? Where do we look before a moment of insight? Does visually fixating on stimuli for a design problem lead to fixation on presented features? Discovering the eye movements associated with increased creativity may inform effective methods of viewing design stimuli. The results of related eye-tracking research can also be drawn upon to infer the types of thinking reflected in specific eye movements. Thus, new insights may be gained by monitoring eye movements during creativity tasks, e.g., when using visual stimuli in the Alternative Uses Test (AUT). One eye-movement measure that can be studied is visual fixation, defined as spatially fixated eye movements within 0.5 degree of visual angle. Our research objective is to discover how visually fixating on pictorially represented objects may affect divergent thinking, as expressed by the ability to derive alternative uses for them. Our research questions, which this paper addresses in detail, are:

1. What eye-movement behaviors are observed in participants viewing visual stimuli?

2. Can eye movements reveal cognitive processes underlying divergent thinking?
Does Visual Fixation Affect Idea Fixation?

3. Can these insights be used to develop methods to enhance divergent thinking?

Read more here:

Kwon E, Ryan JD, Bazylak A, Shu LH (2019) Does Visual Fixation Affect Idea Fixation? Paper MD-19-1454, In press, Journal of Mechanical Design.

Image Credit: