Additive Solutions Lower The Scope Of Improvement, New Study Finds

Brain News: University of Virginia researchers decoded why humans rarely look at situation or object or idea that needs a change — in all kinds of contexts — and plan to remove something as a solution – instead of adding some element, whether it helps or not.

Whether it is painting, cooking, daily office work, or anything else – if there is any need for improvement – the first thing that comes to mind is – what can we add to make it better.

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science investigated the human tendency to make change through addition. They came up with two possibilities initially. First is people think of ideas for both possibilities and disproportionately reject subtractive solutions. The second is they overlook subtractive ideas altogether. For the study, the researchers focused on the latter.

Benjamin Converse, one of the researchers of the study, explained that people get additive ideas easily and quickly, but coming up with subtractive ideas requires more cognitive effort.

People rely on additive ideas and as these strategies become more cognitively accessible, and over time the habit of looking for additive solutions to solve a problem becomes stronger. This tendency prevents people from making a change or improving the world by subtraction according to assistant professor Gabrielle Adams.

This is an interesting finding with tremendous implications across contexts, especially in engineering to improve the way of designing technology to benefit humanity.

To Know More, You May Refer To:

Adams, G. S., Converse, B. A., Hales, A. H., & Klotz, L. E. (2021). People systematically overlook subtractive changes. Nature, 592(7853), 258-261.

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