Choosing creativity: the role of individual risk and ambiguity aversion on creative concept selection in engineering design

Christine A. Toh, Scarlett R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


While creativity is often seen as an indispensable quality of engineering design, individuals often select conventional or previously successful options during the concept selection process due to the inherent risk associated with creative concepts and their inadvertent bias against creativity. However, little is actually known about what factors attribute to the promotion or filtering of these creative concepts during concept selection. To address this knowledge gap, an exploratory study was conducted with 38 undergraduate engineering students. This study was aimed at investigating the impact of individual risk aversion, ambiguity aversion, and student educational level on the selection and filtering of creative ideas during the concept selection process. The results from this study indicate that individuals’ ability to generate creative ideas is not significantly related to their preference for creative ideas during concept selection, but individual risk aversion and ambiguity aversion are significantly related to both creative concept selection and creative idea generation. Our results also revealed that first- and third-year students’ creative ability is affected differently by varying levels of tolerance for ambiguity. These results highlight the need for a more directed focus on creativity in engineering education in both concept creation and concept selection. These results also add to our understanding of creativity during concept selection and provide guidelines for enhancing the design process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-219
Number of pages25
JournalResearch in Engineering Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambiguity aversion
  • Concept selection
  • Creativity
  • Engineering education
  • Risk aversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Choosing creativity: the role of individual risk and ambiguity aversion on creative concept selection in engineering design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this