Previous studies have found that the first few ideas we think of for a given prompt are likely to be less original than the later ideas. In this study, 460 participants were given the Alternative Uses Test (AUT) where they were asked to list alternative uses for a paperclip, creating a database of 235 unique answers, each having a relative occurrence rate in that pool. It was found that later responses were significantly more novel than early responses and on average the originality of responses exponentially increased with quantity. A closer look at this data reveals that a person is likely to have a lower overall originality score if he or she has more elaborate responses. 89 of these participants were also given the Abbreviated Torrance Test For Adults (ATTA) and the data from both tests was used to study relationships between elaboration, fluency, and originality. The data from the AUT reveals a strong negative correlation between an individual’s average number of words per response and his or her average originality score. It is hypothesized that people who spend more time writing multiple-word responses have less time to generate many different ideas thus hindering their ability to reach the novel ideas. Similarly, the ATTA reveals that after two extraneous details, elaboration on a drawing will negatively impact fluency and originality scores. This is not to say that elaborate ideas cannot be original, but rather that in time-limited situations, elaboration may hinder the production of original ideas. In applying this to real world problem solving and idea generation, it is suggested that people may prevent themselves from finding creative solutions if too much time is spent on discussing the first few suggested ideas from a brainstorming session. It is suggested that a more effective brainstorming session will delay discussion until a significant number of ideas are generated.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.