A Bridge Too Far: Conceptual Distance and Creative Ideation

Open access

Abstract

Previous research has shown changing perspectives to be important in problem finding, with viewpoint-based techniques like the 'six thinking hats' and the 'six honest serving men' improving performance (e.g. Vernon & Hocking, 2014). To date, however, evidence for similar techniques based on conceptually 'near' and 'far' cues, where conceptual distance is defined topologically in a semantic space, has shown mixed results. In a sample of 171 participants, we used two standard verbal problem scenarios together with a novel technique comprising six concepts that were either conceptually near or far from the problem scenario. Participants in the experimental group used the concepts when generating solutions; controls were given empty placeholders instead of concepts. Performance was measured for fluency, quality, originality and flexibility. Apart from flexibility, participants did worse when using concepts of either type in comparison to controls. For flexibility, a borderline boost for far concepts was observed (η2 = .03, p = .06). We conclude that the cognitive load overhead introduced by our concept-cueing technique, or any other similar technique that attempts to shape the creative process, needs to be minimised through a variety of methods before we can better determine its usefulness and, thus, the role of conceptual distance in creative problem solving.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Altshuller G. & Shulyak L. (1996). And suddenly the inventor appeared: TRIZ the theory of inventive problem solving. Technical Innovation Center Inc.

  • Amabile T. M. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to the social psychology of creativity. Boulder Colorado: Westview Press.

  • Arreola N. J. & Reiter-Palmon R. (2016). The effect of problem construction creativity on solution creativity across multiple everyday problems. Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts 10(3) 287.

  • Aust F. & Barth M. (2015). Papaja: Create APA manuscripts with RMarkdown.

  • Baer J. & Kaufman J. C. (2005). Bridging generality and specificity: The amusement park theoretical (APT) model of creativity. Roeper Review 27(3) 158-163.

  • Benedek M. & Neubauer A. C. (2013). Revisiting Mednick’s model on creativity-related differences in associative hierarchies. Evidence for a common path to uncommon thought. The Journal of Creative Behavior 47(4) 273-289.

  • Boden M. A. (2004). The creative mind: Myths and mechanisms. Oxford UK: Psychology Press.

  • Chan J. & Schunn C. (2015). The Impact of Analogies on Creative Concept Generation: Lessons From an In Vivo Study in Engineering Design. Cognitive Science 39(1) 126-155.

  • Chan J. Dow S. P. & Schunn C. D. (2015). Do the best design ideas (really) come from conceptually distant sources of inspiration? Design Studies 36 31-58.

  • Chan J. Fu K. Schunn C. Cagan J. Wood K. & Kotovsky K. (2011). On the benefits and pitfalls of analogies for innovative design: Ideation performance based on analogical distance commonness and modality of examples. Journal of Mechanical Design 133(8) 401-411.

  • Chiu I. & Shu L. H. (2012). Investigating effects of oppositely related semantic stimuli on design concept creativity. Journal of Engineering Design 23(4) 271-296.

  • Dahl D. W. & Moreau P. (2002). The influence and value of analogical thinking during new product ideation. Journal of Marketing Research 39(1) 47-60.

  • Daly S. R. Christian J. L. Yilmaz S. Seifert C. M. & Gonzalez R. (2012). Assessing design heuristics for idea generation in an introductory engineering course. International Journal of Engineering Education 28(2) 463-473.

  • De Bono E. & Zimbalist E. (1993). Teach your child how to think. London UK: Penguin Books.

  • Dillon J. T. (1982). Problem finding and solving. The Journal of Creative Behavior 16(2) 97-111.

  • Dunbar K. (2000). How Scientists Think in the Real World: Implications for Science Education. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 21(1) 49-58.

  • Duncker K. & Lees L. S. (1945). On problem-solving. Psychological Monographs 58(5) 1-113.

  • Elff M. (2016). Memisc: Tools for Management of Survey Data and the Presentation of Analysis Results. Retrieved from https://rdrr.io/rforge/memisc/

  • Fantoni G. Taviani C. & Santoro R. (2007). Design by functional synonyms and antonyms: A structured creative technique based on functional analysis. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture 221(4) 673-683.

  • Feldhusen J. F. & Clinkenbeard P. R. (1986). Creativity instructional materials: A review of research. The Journal of Creative Behavior 20(3) 153-182.

  • Fontenot N. A. (1993). The Effects of Training in Creativity and Creative Problem-finding Upon Business People as Measured by Fluency Flexibility and Quality of the Problem Statement. The Journal of Social Psychology 133(1) 11-22.

  • Freeman A. & Golden B. (1997). Why didn’t I think of that? Bizarre origins of ingenious inventions we couldn’t live without. University of Texas Press.

  • Fu K. Chan J. Cagan J. Kotovsky K. Schunn C. & Wood K. (2013). The meaning of “near” and “far”: The impact of structuring design databases and the effect of distance of analogy on design output. Journal of Mechanical Design 135(2) 021007.

  • Gärdenfors P. (2004). Conceptual spaces as a framework for knowledge representation. Mind and Matter 2(2) 9-27.

  • Getzels J. W. & Smilansky J. (1983). Individual differences in pupil perceptions of school problems. British Journal of Educational Psychology 53(3) 307-316.

  • Gordon W. J. (1961). Synectics: The development of creative capacity. Collier-Macmillan.

  • Hoever I. J. Van Knippenberg D. Van Ginkel W. P. & Barkema H. G. (2012). Fostering team creativity: Perspective taking as key to unlocking diversity’s potential. Journal of Applied Psychology 97(5) 982.

  • Huh Y.-j. & Kim M. S. (2012). Study on creativity of game graphics. In Embedded and Multimedia Computing Technology and Service (pp. 339-346). The Netherlands: Springer.

  • Kenett Y. N. Anaki D. & Faust M. (2014). Investigating the structure of semantic networks in low and high creative persons. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8 407.

  • Landauer T. K. & Dumais S. T. (1997). A solution to Plato’s problem: The latent semantic analysis theory of acquisition induction and representation of knowledge. Psychological Review 104(2) 211-240.

  • Lawrence M. A. (2016). Ez: Easy Analysis and Visualization of Factorial Experiments. Retrieved from https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/ez/index.html

  • Malaga R. A. (2000). The effect of stimulus modes and associative distance in individual creativity support systems. Decision Support Systems 29(2) 125-141.

  • Mednick S. (1962). The associative basis of the creative process. Psychological Review 69(3) 220.

  • Mumford M. D. Baughman W. A. Threlfall K. V. Supinski E. P. & Costanza D. P. (1996). Process-Based Measures of Creative Problem-Solving Skills: I. Problem Construction. Creativity Research Journal 9(1) 63-76.

  • Mumford M. D. Reiter-Palmon R. & Redmond M. R. (1994). Problem construction and cognition: Applying problem representations in ill-defined domains. In Runco M. A. (Ed.) Creativity research. Problem finding problem solving and creativity. Westport CT: Ablex Publishing.

  • Nagai Y. & Noguchi H. (2003). An experimental study on the design thinking process started from difficult keywords: Modeling the thinking process of creative design. Journal of Engineering Design 14(4) 429-437.

  • NASA Human Performance Research Group & others. (1987). Task Load Index (NASATLX) v1. 0 computerised version. NASA Ames Research Centre.

  • Navarro D. (2015). Learning statistics with R: A tutorial for psychology students and other beginners. (Version 0.5). Adelaide Australia: University of Adelaide.

  • Newell A. & Simon H. A. (1972). Human problem solving (Vol. 104). Prentice-Hall Englewood Cliffs NJ.

  • Osborn A. F. (1953). Applied imagination principles and procedures of creative thinking. New York: Schribner.

  • Parker S. K. Atkins P. W. & Axtell C. M. (2008). Building Better Workplaces through Individual Perspective Taking: A Fresh Look at a Fundamental Human Process. International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 23 149-172.

  • Prabhakaran R. Green A. E. & Gray J. R. (2014). Thin slices of creativity: Using single-word utterances to assess creative cognition. Behavior Research Methods 46(3) 641-659.

  • R Core Team. (2016). R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Vienna Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.

  • Reiter-Palmon R. Mumford M. D. & Threlfall K. V. (1998). Solving everyday problems creatively: The role of problem construction and personality type. Creativity Research Journal 11(3) 187-197.

  • Revelle W. (2017). Psych: Procedures for Psychological Psychometric and Personality Research. Evanston Illinois: Northwestern University. Retrieved from https://cran.rproject.org/web/packages/psych/index.html

  • Rossmann E. & Fink A. (2010). Do creative people use shorter associative pathways? Personality and Individual Differences 49(8) 891-895.

  • Runco M. A. & Nemiro J. (1994). Problem finding creativity and giftedness. Roeper Review 16(4) 235-241.

  • Shrout P. E. & Fleiss J. L. (1979). Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing rater reliability. Psychological Bulletin 86(2) 420.

  • Simon H. A. (1973). The structure of ill structured problems. Artificial Intelligence 4(3-4) 181-201.

  • Sowden P. T. Clements L. Redlich C. & Lewis C. (2015). Improvisation facilitates divergent thinking and creativity: Realizing a benefit of primary school arts education. Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts 9(2) 128-138.

  • Stevenson A. (Ed.). (2016). Oxford dictionary of English. Oxford University Press.

  • Vernon D. & Hocking I. (2014). Thinking hats and good men: Structured techniques in a problem construction task. Thinking Skills and Creativity 14 41-46.

  • Vernon D. & Hocking I. (2016). Beyond belief: Structured techniques prove more effective than a placebo intervention in a problem construction task. Thinking Skills and Creativity 19 153-159.

  • Vernon D. Hocking I. & Tyler T. C. (2016). An Evidence-Based Review of Creative Problem Solving Tools A Practitioner’s Resource. Human Resource Development Review 15(2) 230-259.

  • Warnes G. R. Bolker B. Gorjanc G. Grothendieck G. Korosec A. & Lumley T. (2015). Gdata: Various R Programming Tools for Data Manipulation.

  • Weisberg R. W. (2009). On ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking in creativity. In Arthur Markman & Kristin Wood (Eds.) Tools for innovation (pp. 23-47). Oxford: Oxford Scholarship Online.

  • Wickens C. D. & Hollands J. G. (2000). Attention time-sharing and workload. Engineering Psychology and Human Performance 3 439-479.

  • Wilson J. O. Rosen D. Nelson B. A. & Yen J. (2010). The effects of biological examples in idea generation. Design Studies 31(2) 169-186.

  • Xie Y. (2015). Dynamic Documents with R and knitr (2nd ed.). Boca Raton Florida: Chapman and Hall/CRC.

  • Zenasni F. & Lubart T. (2009). Perception of emotion alexithymia and creative potential. Personality and Individual Differences 46(3) 353-358.

Search
Journal information
Cited By
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 431 188 2
PDF Downloads 154 91 9