Design Thinking Research

Part of the series Understanding Innovation pp 49-62


Early and Repeated Exposure to Examples Improves Creative Work

  • Chinmay KulkarniAffiliated withStanford University HCI Group Email author 
  • , Steven P. DowAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon, HCI Institute
  • , Scott R KlemmerAffiliated withStanford University HCI Group

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This article presents the results of an online creativity experiment (N = 81) that examines the effect of example timing on creative output. In the between-subjects experiment, participants drew animals to inhabit an alien Earth-like planet while being exposed to examples early, late, or repeatedly during the experiment. We find that exposure to examples increases conformity. Early exposure to examples improves creativity (measured by the number of common and novel features in drawings, and subjective ratings by independent raters). Repeated exposure to examples interspersed with prototyping leads to even better results. However, late exposure to examples increases conformity, but does not improve creativity.