Subjective semantic surprise resulting from divided attention biases evaluations of an idea’s creativity Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The evaluation of an idea's creativity constitutes an important step in successfully responding to an unexpected problem with a new solution. Yet, distractions compete for cognitive resources with the evaluation process and may change how individuals evaluate ideas. In this paper, we investigate whether attentional demands from these distractions bias creativity evaluations. This question is examined using 1,065 creativity evaluations of 15 alternative uses of everyday objects by 71 study participants. Participants in the distraction group (Treatment) rated the alternative uses as more creative on the novelty dimension, but not the usefulness dimension, than did participants in the baseline group (Control). Psychophysiological measurements-event-related and spectral EEG and pupillometry-confirm attentional resources in the Treatment group are being diverted to a distractor task and that the Control group expended significantly more cognitive resources on the evaluation of the alternative uses. These data show direct physiological evidence that distractor tasks draw cognitive resources from creative evaluation and that such distractions will bias judgements of creativity.

publication date

  • December 2020