Combative creativity: resistance to cognitive fixation effects in an idea generation task



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Texas A&M University


This study investigated whether individuals identified as highly creative can resist a cognitive fixation tendency brought upon by the introduction of examples prior to an idea generation task. Ninety-eight subjects, ranging in age from twelve to seventeen and participating in Texas A&M University??s Youth Adventure Program for gifted students, comprised the sample. All took the Thinking Creatively with Sounds and Words test and were divided into three creativity groups (high, middle, and low) based on originality scores. A proportional stratified random sampling procedure was implemented to ensure equal representation for experimental and control groups. The subjects were then presented an experimenter-designed idea generation task, patterned after Smith, Ward, & Schumacher (1993), that called for them to generate ideas for a chair of the future. The experimental group viewed examples prior to task onset that all included three specific features relevant to the design of a chair (adjustable lever, four legs, drink holder). The control group did not view any examples prior to task onset. Conformity effects were measured in relation to the proportion of the features in the examples that were included in the ideas generated by the subjects. Chi-square and a model generated analysis of variance procedure were used to determine if there were any significant direct or interaction effects for both the creativity and treatment groupings on the construct of conformity.
The results demonstrated that subjects in the control group conformed at a significantly lesser rate than the experimental one, across all creativity groupings. A significant difference was also found between the high and low creativity groups for conformity. The ANOVA data additionally discovered a significant interaction effect between the variables of treatment condition and creativity grouping, indicating that the interplay of these two variables influenced results. Finally, the conformity rate of those individuals with the highest level of creativity, true to the linear nature of the initial polynomial trend contrast, were, on average, the lowest observed scores.