The effects of gender and idea goodness on ownership bias in engineering design education

Christine A. Toh, Andrew A. Strohmetz, Scarlett R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


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 individuals 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101105
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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