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Transcript of Brainstorming
What is brainstorming?
What is brainstorming behavior?
Is there sufficient evidence for brainstorming?
How do we know all this?
“A method for increasing productivity in groups that calls for heightened expressiveness, postponed evaluation, quantity rather that quality, and deliberate attempts to build on earlier ideas”
(Forsyth, p. 305)
Forsyth's definition is derived from the ideas of Alex Osborn in 1957. Osborn wanted to increase creativity in problem solving and idea generation. Osborn theorized that brainstorming is only effective when judgment is suspended. To accomplish this, he set four guidelines:
1) Criticism is ruled out
2) Freewheeling is welcomed (wild, abstract ideas)
3) Quantity is wanted
4) Combination and improvement are wanted
Adding to Osborn, Forsyth theorized a few more obstacles that lead to ineffective brainstorming:
1) Production blocking
2) Social Matching effect
Johnson & Johnson:
Brainstorming focuses on a different obstacle, ‘convergent thinking’, or the tendency to only produce ideas from an accessible category. To avoid this, they propose utilizing divergent thinking through two critical factors:
Evaluation Apprehension is the fear of the possible negative evaluations from other group members, which can prevent group members from presenting more original ideas.
Social Matching Effort
Social matching effort is when undercontributors to the group are challenged by social comparison to work harder with their group members, but the overcontributors decrease their contribution to match the overall group effort.
Illusion of Group Productivity
Illusion of group productivity is the estimates of quantity and quality of work being unrealistically positive in a group setting. Members experiencing often believe their group is more productive than most.
Studies supporting brainstorming
Electronic Brainstorming and Group Size
Two experiments used undergraduates to analyze how group size and electronic brainstorming affected quality and quantity of ideas generated
Larger groups generated more unique ideas and ideas were higher quality
Members found electronic brainstorming more satisfying than face-to-face groups
Researchers concluded that electronic brainstorming is more effective because it reduces production blocking and evaluation apprehension
by Gallup, Dennis, Cooper, Valacich, & Bastianutti (1992)
Used undergraduates for both populations
Relatively small sample size
Does not address different aspects individually that block production
Only a few group sizes were studied (2, 4, 6 and 12)
Brainstorming rules as assigned goals: Does brainstorming really improve idea quality?
Two experiments analyzed whether brainstorming rules or quantity goals are more effective in producing the most high quality ideas in individual brainstorming
Used brainstorming rules as assigned goals
Individuals assigned to whether they would receive brainstorming instructions, specific quantity goal, both, or neither
Found that brainstorming rules “improve idea quantity only when combined with a specific, difficult quantity goal”
by Robert C. Litchfield (2008)
Large sample size
Different groups allowed analysis of interactions
Furthered findings of previous research
Participants were undergraduate students (again, generalizability)
Did not address group brainstorming
Did not have factors such as production blocking or social matching effect
Size, Potential, and Performing in Brainstorming Groups
by Bouchard, T. r., & Hare, M. (1970)
Bouchard, T. r., & Hare, M. (1970). Size, performance, and potential in brainstorming groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 54(1, Pt.1), 51-55.
Diehl, M and Stroebe, W. (1987) Productivity Loss in Brainstorming Groups: Toward the Solution of a Riddle. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology. 53(3), 497-509.
Gallupe, R. B., Dennis, A. R., Cooper, W. H., Valacich, J. S., Bastianutti, L. M., & Nunamaker,Jay F.,,Jr. (1992). Electronic brainstorming and group size. Academy of Management Journal, 35(2), 350.
Litchfield, R. C. (2009). Brainstorming rules as assigned goals: Does brainstorming really improve idea quantity? Motivation and Emotion, 33(1), 25-31.
Mongeau, P., & Morr, M. (1999). Reconsidering Brainstorming. Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal, 1(1).
Nijstad, B, Stroebe, W, Lodewijkx, H. (2006) The illusion of group productivity: A reduction of failures explanation. European Journal of Social Psychology. 36(1), 31-48.
Van Leeuwen, E and Van Knippenberg, D. (2002) How a Group Goal May Reduce Social Matching in Group Performance: Shifts in Standards for Determining a Fair Contribution of Effort. The Journal of Social Psychology. 142(1), 73-86.
The experiment used one hundred and sixty-eight male college students to test their prediction that nominal and brainstorming groups would converge as their size increased
Brainstorming groups were compared to "nominal" groups, and were measured on the total number of non-overlapping ideas produced in each of the conditions
Research findings concluded that group brainstorming, over a wide range of group sizes, inhibits rather than facilitates creative thinking
Collaros and Anderson (1969)
Demonstrated this concept by manipulating perceived expertise of group members
When group members believed that every other member had experience working in such groups:
productivity was the lowest
highest feelings of inhibition
highest reluctance to offer ideas
Maginn and Harris (1980)
Could not demonstrate the effects of social inhibition on subjects working individually
Told participants there were three judges evaluating their quality and originality of ideas
Expected lower productivity outcomes compared to groups that did not have the same scrutiny
No statistically significant differences between groups
Stroebe, and Wolfgang (1987)
Compared nominal and brainstorming groups with varying levels of evaluation apprehension
Performance of groups under high evaluation apprehension and the group-assessment condition did not perform as poorly as expected
Evaluation did not appear to raise apprehension when the target of evaluation was perceived as the group rather than individual
Van Leeuwen and Van Knippenberg (2002)
Study discusses ways to establish a more universal high level of group effort
In the absence of a specific goal, participants matched their effort to the expected group level
In the presence of a specific goal, women gave a performance close to an equal share of effort, an effect not demonstrated by men
Forsyth states that this illusion comes about because no members of the group believe that they are doing less than their fair share of the work, and come to think of others’ ideas as their own
This concept is reinforced when any group member compares themselves to any other perceived “less productive” member
Group brainstorming experiences less failure in creating new ideas than individuals
Varying group sizes
Balanced repeated measures design
Clear operational definition of variables
Gave clearly identified instructions of how to facilitate appropriate brainstorming sessions
Kept group sizes consistent across the two conditions (nominal & real)
The participants were aware that they were being recorded
The Hawthorne Effect
The Demand Effect
Real and nominal groups were technically not given the same exact procedural task
The principal of brainstorming is to focus on quantity not quality, but the researchers had specific criterion of what they considered to be appropriate answers
Lacks in construct validity
“The reduction of individual effort exerted when people work in groups compared to when they work alone” (Forsyth, p. 294)
Study done on motivational loss/social loafing in groups
200 middle school students in urban Los Angeles randomly selected and put in different brainstorming tasks
Results: high identifiability decreased social loafers within groups – but did not eliminate social loafing entirely
Production blocking is when group members must wait their turn to voice their ideas & sometimes forget what they wanted to contribute by the time it’s their turn, someone may have already said their creative idea or they’ve thought about it too much and are now second-guessing themselves.
Diehl & Stroebe (1987)
Researchers asserted that production blocking was the biggest factor of productivity in brainstorming groups
EBS (Electronic brainstorming) may contribute in lessening production blocking of group members
Findings suggest that the larger the real groups are the more likely that there production of ideas will decrease
The Bouchard and Hare's study needs to be replicated to effectively test idea productions on brainstorming, while ameliorating the factors mentioned previously
Thank you! Any questions?
Traditional brainstorming shown to be less desirable in light of studies,
can lead to unexpected problems:
illusion of productivity
Better alternatives to traditional brainstorming:
nominal group method
Electronic brainstorming is a promising approach in our increasingly technologically advanced age; allows for productive brainstorming while avoiding evaluation apprehension and production blocking.
Certain members put in less effort in hopes that others will pick up slack
Causes free rider effect
Everyone lowers effort
Short term memory
Previously mentioned idea
Begin to second guess
Studies against brainstorming
Afraid of Judgment
Fear of what people are going to say about them
They don’t like scrutiny
Don’t want to be called/feel stupid for their idea
Social Matching Effort
Members of the group are challenged by the more efficient members of the group to distribute the work evenly (Not always a good thing.)
While the over-contributors decrease their contribution to the overall work
Unfortunately not everyone works at the same time and efficiency as others
Illusion of Group Productivity
Bad ideas are less prevailing; someone else comes up with good ideas
Constant group activity back and forth
Individuals take credit for others work