speaking, my research investigates the interaction between the
of category knowledge and the use of that knowledge.
I am especially interested in how people use
existing knowledge to develop new ideas or products.
Within the broad domain of category
representation and use, I tend to focus on issues of alignability. Alignability is a theoretical construct
describing the manner in which concepts are compared.
Representation and Use
This research can take several
forms. I have examined the effects of recently encountered
examples on performance in a generation task. I have also examined the
influenceof existing category knowledge in a generation task.
Similarly, I have examined the manner in which the alignability
of categories affects how people learn use-relevant categories .
Patterson, M.J., & Sifonis, C.M. (2004). The role of specificity and
abstraction in creative idea generation. Creativity Research
Sifonis, C.M. &
Ross, B.H. (2002). Alignment
learning use-relevant classification systems. Memory
& Cognition, 30,
Patterson, M.J., Sifonis, C.M., Dodds, R. & Saunders, K.(2002). The role of graded
structure in imaginative thought. Memory & Cognition,
Smith, S. M.,
Ward, T. B., Tindell, D. R., Sifonis, C. M., & Wilkenfeld, M. J.
Category structure and created memories. Memory & Cognition,
Dodds, R., Saunders, K., & Sifonis, C.M. (2000) Attribute
imaginative thought. Memory & Cognition, 28,1387-1397.
& Sifonis, C.M. (1997). Task demands and generative thinking: What
and what remains the same? Journal of Creative
More recently, my work on category
representation and category use has included research on applied
analogical reasoning. This research includes studies examining
the effects of conceptual distance between analogy source and target
domains on the quality of solutions generated for the target domain .
Sifonis, C.M. (2003,
November). The effect of conceptual
distance on analogical problem solving. Poster presented at the
meeting of the Psychonomic Society,
In collaboration with Research and Development at General
Motors, I have also examined the best methods for teaching
corporate executives how to use analogical
reasoning to generate innovative business processes. This includes
determining the representation of the target problem that results
in the highest
quality solutions and the degree to which source and target domain
alignment affects the
type and quality of the solutions generated in the reasoning task.
Sifonis, C.M. & Chen, F.H.K. (2006, October). Process innovation through novel analogical ideation approaches. Talk presented at the 13th annual Innovation Immergence conference, San Diego, CA
Sifonis, C.M., Chen F.H.K., & Zarb, J. (2006, May). Cross domain analogical analysis increases the creativity of work-team generated novel processes. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society, New York, NY.
Sifonis, C.M. & Chen, F.H.K. & Bommarito, D. (2005, July ). The effects of selective mapping between complex domains on creativity in a generation task. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Stresa, Italy.
Sifonis, C.M. (2004, November). The effect of domain information on the structured use of analogy for enhancing innovation. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society,
General Motors Vehicle Development Research Lab (2003, December). Analogical Reasoning and Its Application to the Business Process. (GM
Contract Report CR-03/20/VDR).
Sifonis, C.M., Chen, F.H.K. &
August). Analogy as a tool to enhance
innovative problem solving. Poster presented at
the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society,
Chen, F.H.K., Bommarito, D. & Sifonis, C.M. (2003, September). Business process innovation through analogical reasoning. Paper presented at the annual Innovation Convergence meeting, Minneapolis, MN.
Sifonis, C.M., Chen,
H.K. & Bommarito, D. (2003,
August). Analogy as
a tool to enhance
innovative problem solving.
the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Boston, MA.
collaboration with General Motors has also resulted in the development
of a technique by which analogies can be constructed for
communicating innovative ideas to others.
Chernoff, A. & Kolpasky, K (2006). The
a tool for communicating about innovation. International
Innovation and Technology Management, 3, 1-19.
an effort to begin understanding the relative contributions of
nonconscious processes to analogical reasoning, I have begun examining
participants’ performance on a simpler deductive reasoning task known
transitive inference (TI) task. This research has been conducted conducted
in collaboration with William Levy at the University of Virginia.
research investigates the neural and cognitive
mechanisms underlying performance in the TI task. Of
interest is the relative contribution of the prefrontal cortex and the
hippocampus to TI and the contribution of these structures to conscious
awareness during the TI task.
A., McIntosh, T., & Levy, W.B.
(2005, May). The effect
of working memory load on transitive
Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological
Society, Los Angeles, CA.
Grants and Contracts
“The Benefits and Consequences of Podcasting on Academic Performance in a Research Methods and Design Course” Oakland University Educational Development Grant. Principle investigator/grant writer. Fall 2006. Awarded $300.
“Analogy for Communication
and Innovation Project"
project funding the development of a technique for creating analogies
communicate about innovations. Principle investigator/proposal writer.
– September 2004. Awarded $22,000.
“Development of Guidelines
to Achieve Robust Cross-Domain Analogical Analysis (CDAA) Workshops.” General
Motors Grant # 38870, principle investigator/grant
Fall/Winter 2003-2004. Awarded $65,000
“Analogy and Its Application to
the Business Process.” General Motors
# TCS24470. An
extensive literature review
summarizing the research examining analogical problem solving and
to use this knowledge to enhance innovation. Principle
writer. May 2002 - September 2002. Awarded $32,000
the determination of the parts making up categories of events.” Oakland University Faculty Research
Fellowships, principle investigator/grant writer. Spring/Summer 2001.
Sifonis, C.M. (2004, March).
The Structured Use of Analogy for Facilitating Creative
Invited talk presented to the Department of Research and Development at
the General Motors
in Warren, MI.
Sifonis, C.M. (2003, March). Analogy
Invited talk presented to the Sigma Xi Society at Oakland
Sifonis, C.M. & Ward, T.B. (1997,
the old in new ideas. Invited talk
presented at the annual meeting of the International Conference on
Networks (ICNN 97), Houston,
February 2007 – 3 hour Hot Topic workshop at Walsh Business Leadership Institute educating attendees about creativity and analogy and providing hands-on experience applying the Structured Analogical Analysis Methodology (SAAM) to a product development problem.
May 2004 - ½ day workshop
training employees at
how to use analogies to communicate about innovation (
May 2004 – ½ day workshop
training employees at General Motors
the Cross Domain Analogical Analysis (CDAA) technique
for using analogies to generate new ideas.