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Manufacturing Seminar, 3/06/08, Erin MacDonald

The Construction of Preference in Engineering Design and Implications for Green Products

Place: Given Lounge, Room 35-520 Time: 12:00 P.M. Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Dr. Erin MacDonald
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan


Abstract available after the jump.

Engineering design methods implicitly assume that customer preferences or needs exist a priori, waiting to be "found." I relax this assumption using a behavioral psychology theory called the construction of preference, which asserts that individuals construct preferences on a case-by-case basis when called to make a decision. I will discuss the three central themes of my research: using construction of preference to experimentally identify product heuristics; incorporating construction of preference into existing engineering design methods; and providing interdisciplinary perspective on decision-making in product design. I will review findings from my dissertation research, including that customers' evaluations of products are influenced by relationships they believe to exist between product attributes, and that actively controlling construction of preference can lead to products that are more successful in the market. The findings have an accompanying case study in green design, in which product decisions are intertwined with abstract, psychologically-important concepts that influence preference construction. I will conclude my talk with a general discussion of my future research directions.

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Lab for Manufacturing and Productivity

Lab for Manufacturing and Productivity

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