Abstract

Designers make information acquisition decisions, such as where to search and when to stop the search. Such decisions are typically made sequentially, such that at every search step designers gain information by learning about the design space. However, when designers begin acquiring information, their decisions are primarily based on their prior knowledge. Prior knowledge influences the initial set of assumptions that designers use to learn about the design space. These assumptions are collectively termed as inductive biases. Identifying such biases can help us better understand how designers use their prior knowledge to solve problems in the light of uncertainty. Thus, in this study, we identify inductive biases in humans in sequential information acquisition tasks. To do so, we analyze experimental data from a set of behavioral experiments conducted in the past [1–5]. All of these experiments were designed to study various factors that influence sequential information acquisition behaviors. Across these studies, we identify similar decision making behaviors in the participants in their very first decision to “choose x”. We find that their choices of “x” are not uniformly distributed in the design space. Since such experiments are abstractions of real design scenarios, it implies that further contextualization of such experiments would only increase the influence of these biases. Thus, we highlight the need to study the influence of such biases to better understand designer behaviors. We conclude that in the context of Bayesian modeling of designers’ behaviors, utilizing the identified inductive biases would enable us to better model designer’s priors for design search contexts as compared to using non-informative priors.

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