Design Thinking: A Rod for Design’s Own Back?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review

67 Downloads (Pure)


Design Thinking is frequently argued to be unlike scientific thinking. Existing literature questions the validity of this differentiation with regards to: the characterisation of scientific thinking in design research; the notion that designers are more effective than scientists at generating empathy with users; the idea that scientific problems are not wicked. Such research posits commonalities between the way designers and scientists think. In further investigating the relationship between design and scientific thinking, this paper explores the issue of inductive reasoning. Frequently, research suggests that designers do not rely on inductive reasoning. This paper revisits Rowe’s (1987) study which observes designers to commonly employ it. Rowe’s work provides further evidence of a link between design and scientific thinking. This paper calls for additional research into such links in order to optimise design’s potential. In also suggests that highlighting commonalities between design and scientific thinking may support access to government funding, and thus the future prosperity of design in UK universities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherDesign Research Society
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe 50th Anniversary DRS Conference - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 201630 Jun 2016


ConferenceThe 50th Anniversary DRS Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License .


  • Design Thinking and scientific thinking
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Wicked Problems
  • STEM funding
  • Empathy


Dive into the research topics of 'Design Thinking: A Rod for Design’s Own Back?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this