62. Brainstorming makes you less creative

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By Stanislaw Pstrokonski. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

I've recently been doing a series on creativity on the podcast. Edward de Bono has featured heavily, but there are other creativity-related topics and authors who I also want to talk about. In this episode, we look at the research on brainstorming, the technique for coming up with new ideas.

The provocative title of this episode needs a little clarification. The most strongly supported finding in the research is that brainstorming in a group is not as effective as coming up with ideas individually, and then pooling them. Since brainstorming almost always refers to a group activity, I took the liberty of naming the episode this way. Strictly speaking, brainstorming on your own may not have such terrible effects, though less is known about this.

Research on brainstorming is surprisingly abundant and has been continuously going on for over 50 years. (Sometimes researchers baffle me with what they find important to study - it seems that there is very little research on other, broader topics that also interest me from an educational standpoint, such as interest or prestige.) As a result, there are a lot of other interesting findings to talk about, some of which extend in their relevance beyond brainstorming itself.

As a widely-used and rarely challenged technique for idea generation, I think many will find it useful to hear what we actually know about brainstorming, including how to make the most of it.

Enjoy the episode.

Articles referred to in this episode:

Alex Osborn (1957). Applied Imagination. [Book]

Charles H. Clark (1958). Brainstorming: The Dynamic New Way to Create Succesful Ideas. [Book]

Taylor et al. (1958). Does Group Participation When Using Brainstorming Facilitate or Inhibit Creative Thinking?

Bouchard and Hare (1970). Size, performance and potential in brainstorming groups.

Lamm and Tromsdorff (1973). Group versus individual performance on tasks requiring ideation proficiency (brainstorming): A review.

Diehl and Stroeber (1987). Productivity Loss in Brainstorming Groups: Toward the Solution of a Riddle.

Paulus and Dzindolet (1993). Social Influence Processes in Group Brainstorming.

Paulus et al. (1993). Perception of Performance in Group Brainstorming: The Illusion of Group Productivity.

Sutton and Hargadon (1996). Brainstorming Groups in Context: Effectiveness in a Product Design Firm.

Camacho and Paulus (1995). The Role of Social Anxiousness in Group Brainstorming.

Shepherd et al. (1996). Invoking Social Comparison to Improve Electronic Brainstorming: Beyond Anonymity.

Michinov and Primois (2005). Improving productivity and creativity in online groups through social comparison process: New evidence for asynchronous electronic brainstorming.

Dennis (2015). A meta-analysis of group size effects in electronic brainstorming: more heads are better than one.

Larey and Paulus (1999). Group Preference and Convergent Tendencies in Small Groups: A Content Analysis of Group Brainstorming Performance.

Dennis et al. (2012). Sparking Creativity: Improving Electronic Brainstorming with Individual Cognitive Priming.

Feinberg and Nemeth (2008). The "Rules" of Brainstorming: An Impediment to Creativity?

Rossiter and Lilien (1994). New "Brainstorming" Principles.

Isaksen et al. (1998). A Review of Brainstorming Research: Six Critical Issues for Inquiry.

Isaksen and Gaulin (2005). A Reexamination of Brainstorming Research: Implications for Research and Practice.

Hender et al. (2001). Improving Group Creativity: Brainstorming vs Non-Brainstorming Techniques in a GSS Environment.

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