Does empathy lead to creativity? A simulation-based investigation on the role of team trait empathy on nominal group concept generation and early concept screening

Mohammad Alsager Alzayed, Scarlett Rae Miller, Jessica Menold, Jacquelyn Huff, Christopher McComb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on empathy has been surging in popularity in the engineering design community since empathy is known to help designers develop a deeper understanding of the users' needs. Because of this, the design community has become more invested in devising and assessing empathic design activities. However, research on empathy has been primarily limited to individuals, meaning we do not know how it impacts team performance, particularly in the concept generation and selection stages of the design process. Specifically, it is unknown how the empathic composition of teams, defined here as the average (elevation) and standard deviation (diversity) of team members' empathy, would impact design outcomes during nominal group concept generation and early concept screening. Therefore, the goal of the current study is to investigate the impact of team empathy on nominal group concept generation and early concept screening in an engineering design student project. This was accomplished through a computational simulation of 13,482 teams of non-interacting brainstorming individuals generated by a statistical bootstrapping technique. This simulation drew upon a design repository of 806 ideas generated by first-year engineering students. The main findings from the study indicated that the impact of the elevation and diversity of different components of team empathy varied depending upon the specific design outcome (number of ideas, overall creativity, elegance, usefulness, uniqueness) and design stage (concept generation and concept screening). The results from this study can be used to guide team formation in engineering design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2300001
JournalArtificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing: AIEDAM
StatePublished - Sep 4 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence

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