Method in their madness: Explaining how designers think and act through the cognitive co-evolution model

Philip Cash*, Milene Gonçalves, Kees Dorst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Designers often face situations where the only way forward is through the exploration of possibilities. However, there is a critical disconnect between understanding of how designer’s think and act in such situations. We address this disconnect by proposing and testing (via protocol analysis) the cognitive co-evolution model. Our model comprises a new approach to co-evolutionary design theory by explaining both the progression of the process itself and the creation of design outputs via an interplay between metacognitive perceived uncertainty, cognition, and the external world. We thus connect explanations of how designers think with descriptions of how they act. We provide a foundation for connecting to other theories, models, and questions in design research via common links to cognition and metacognition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101219
Number of pages32
JournalDesign Studies
Early online date21 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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