Pressure to Conform Can Inspire Creativity - Miller-McCune
New research suggests less-creative people do more innovative thinking when they are told individualism is the norm, and instructed to conform.
Do you think of yourself as not particularly creative? Well, you might have more innovative ideas than you realize. To access them, you just need to feel some pressure to conform.
Admittedly, that sounds like an oxymoron; creative thinking and conformity are usually considered mutually exclusive. But newly published research finds a specific sort of arm twisting can help people who aren’t terribly innovative increase their creative output.
The key is pressuring them to think independently, within the confines of a group project.
In the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Jack Goncalo of Cornell University and Michelle Duguid of Washington University describe a study featuring 496 undergraduates. Participants began by filling out a 30-item survey designed to measure their perceived level of creativity.
Based on their answers, they were divided into three groups: those who were most creative, least creative, and those in the middle. The top and bottom third went on to perform the rest of the experiment, which consisted of two brainstorming exercises.
The remaining participants were assigned to smaller groups that received different sets of instructions. All were all given the same basic task: they had 10 minutes to decide what items a family should take with them on a vacation to the moon, and 15 minutes to come up with ideas for a new business that could move into a space being vacated by the bankrupt campus restaurant.