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On The Relationship Between Idea-Quantity and Idea-Quality During Ideation

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A great deal of research has been conducted to develop methods and techniques to improve group ideation. Most of this research focuses on techniques for increasing the quantity of ideas generated during ideation; less attention has been given to the quality of the ideas produced. This focus stems from the widely held quantity–quality conjecture, that, all else being equal, more ideas give rise to more good ideas. In this paper, we argue that cognitive inertia and scarcity of solution space may affect the relationship between idea-quantity and idea-quality as ideation proceeds, resulting in a condition of diminishing returns for additional ideas. Results of a laboratory study using fourteen groups supported the diminishing returns hypothesis. Recommendations for future ideation research are suggested.
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... Semantic nodes closer to the cue would be activated first, eliciting responses that are highly accessible but not very original; activation would require more time to reach more distant nodes with lower accessibility and higher originality (see Acar & Runco, 2014;Benedek et al., 2012;Milgram & Rabkin, 1980;Wang et al., 2017;Ward, 1969). This account implies that average originality should increase with fluency: the originality of the final ideas in a sequence should be higher when the sequence is longer (as long as activation does not reach nodes that are irrelevant to the task; Reinig & Briggs, 2008). ...
... By contrast, a few theories of creativity predict that quality does not necessarily scale with quantity. Bounded ideation theory (Briggs & Reinig, 2010;Reinig & Briggs, 2008, 2013 proposes that there are limits to the extent to which originality can increase along with total number ideas: originality may well decrease at the end of a sequence of ideas if individuals reach the limitfor exampleof their ability, the space of possible solutions to the task, or their willingness to expend effort in the task. Bounded ideation theory does not predict that average originality will necessarily be lower for the final ideas in a long series of ideas than in a shorter series, but this is a possible consequence of this view. ...
... Based on activation spreading, we would have expected the best ideas to appear at the end of long sequences, reflecting the fact that activation reached very distant semantic nodesnot in the productions of participants who proposed only a couple of ideas. This conclusion converges with prior studies finding that proposing more ideas tends to come with diminishing returns, incompatible with predictions based purely on activation spreading Kleinkorres et al., 2021;Reinig & Briggs, 2008). In fact, it is possible that activation spreading also plays a role and also contributes to the serial order effect observed here: the roles of associative and executive processes can be reconciled in dualprocess accounts ; see also Barr et al., 2014). ...
... We also investigated the effects on the number of creative ideas (Reinig & Briggs, 2008). An idea was considered creative if it scored above the sample mean on novelty (>4.9) and usefulness (>5.4) (e.g., Althuizen & Chen, 2022;Dean et al., 2006;Parnes, 1961). ...
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