Priming is a psychological technique that can alter designers’ mindsets prior to conceptual design exercises [1]. For example, priming the five senses enhanced designers’ abilities to communicate sustainability through the product features they designed [2,3]. Although the three pillars of sustainable design — social desirability, economic competitiveness, and environmental friendliness — are all important, they are not necessarily equally accessible or salient during the design process. This paper applies the collage priming method of [2] to (1) increase/improve ideas related to the sustainability pillars, in the eyes of users, and (2) reduce ownership bias and cause a more favorable judgment of others’ ideas, when compared to one’s own ideas. An experiment tests (1) and (2) for the collage priming method versus a reading preparation activity and no prime/activity for effectiveness in these two applications. The participants included graduate design student attendees at the 2016 IDETC conference and graduate engineering students at Stanford. For (1), collage priming is proven to be successful in helping designers to generate ideas that are more environmentally friendly but less successful in helping designers generate ideas related to social desirability and economic competitiveness, as judged by potential users; no more successful than a reading exercise. For (2), we find evidence that the collage priming reduces ownership bias in designers, as measured in their judgment of other (simulated) designers’ ideas, and in this case the reading exercise does not have the same effect.

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