Publications

KABOOM: An Agent-Based Model for Simulating Cognitive Style in Team Problem Solving

S. Lapp, K. Jablokow, and C. McComb

2019, Design Science

The performance of a design team is influenced by each team member’s unique cognitive style - i.e., their preferred manner of managing structure as they solve problems, make decisions, and seek to bring about change. Cognitive style plays an important role in how teams of engineers design and collaborate, but the interactions of cognitive style with team organization and processes have not been well studied. The limitations of small-scale behavioral experiments have led researchers to develop computational models for simulating teamwork; however, none have modeled the effects of individuals’ cognitive styles. This paper presents KABOOM (KAI Agent-Based Organizational Optimization Model), the first agent-based model of teamwork to incorporate cognitive style. In KABOOM, heterogeneous agents imitate the diverse problem-solving styles described by Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation construct, which places each individual somewhere along the spectrum of cognitive style preference. Using the model, we investigate the interacting effects of a team’s communication patterns, specialization, and cognitive style composition on design performance. By simulating cognitive style in the context of team problem solving, KABOOM lays the groundwork for the development of team simulations that reflect humans’ diverse problem-solving styles.