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Requirements fixation

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There is a broad consensus that understanding system desiderata (requirements) and design creativity are both important for software engineering success. However, little research has addressed the relationship between design creativity and the way requirements are framed or presented. This paper therefore aims to investigate the possibility that the way desiderata are framed or presented can affect design creativity. Forty two participants took part in a randomized control trial where one group received desiderata framed as “requirements” while the other received desiderata framed as “ideas”. Participants produced design concepts which were judged for originality. Participants who received requirements framing produced significantly less original designs than participants who received ideas framing (Mann-Whitney U=116.5, p=0.004). We conclude that framing desiderata as “requirements” may cause requirements fixation where designers’ preoccupation with satisfying explicit requirements inhibits their creativity.