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					             Alignment of Research on


      CREATIVE COGNITION
 Across Levels of Complexity and Ecological Validity


            Steven M. Smith
             Texas A&M University
NSF Workshop on the Science of Discovery
           and Innovation
      Washington, D.C., May 17-18, 2006
Topics of Today’s Presentation

          Creativity
    Creativity & The Mind
Research in Creative Cognition
 Current State of Knowledge
 Next Big Questions to Target
              Definition: Creativity
           Required Characteristics
                      Novelty
                     Practicality
Family Resemblance: Shared Characteristics
   Ambiguity                        Originality
                     Emergence
                                        Meaningfulness
    Insightfulness
                     Incongruity           Flexibility
 Divergence
Levels of Creativity




Can
research
at these               My research in
levels be              Creative Cognition
aligned?
    Creative Cognition
1. Cognitive processes and
structures underlie creative
thinking.

2. Cognition is inherently creative.
            Creative Cognition
               Concepts & Categories
                   Visualization
                     Memory
                 Problem Solving
                    Language
   Cognitive processes &       Cognition is inherently
structures underlie creative          creative.
         thinking.
       An analogy for research on creativity:
               Creativity is like memory.

Creativity, like memory, can be studied scientifically.



The term simple memory includes a variety of cognitive
structures and processes.


Likewise, the simple term creativity encompasses many
different cognitive structures and processes.
There is no unitary "creative process;"
the science of creative cognition deals
with the complex interacting
components of creative thinking, as is
done in other areas of cognitive
experimental science, such as memory,
language, or decision-making.
Personality vs. Process/Mechanism Approach

Our approach to research should lead to a better
understanding of how to improve or optimize creativity.

A personality approach is suited to identifying creative
people, or assessing their creative talents.

A more useful approach focuses on the processes &
mechanisms that lead to creativity.

The better we understand these processes &
mechanisms, the more we will be able to improve them.
Components of Creative Thinking
              Combination:
           Synthesis, Emergence
                 Ideation:
   Divergent Thinking, Remote Association
               Imagination:
     Visualization, Restructuring, Insight
           Incremental Work:
      Learning, Memory, Computation
          Ineffable Processes:
             Intuition, Incubation
                   Logic:
        Analogy, Inference, Induction
   Example: The Hubble Fix

                   • Fixation
                   • Incubation
                   • Insight
                   • Conceptual
                     Combination
                   • Analogy
                   • Visualization
James Crocker
NASA Engineer
Example: The Hubble Fix
         Fixation


                                    Incubation




                                                   Insight
                    Visualization




                        Analogy


                                     +
                          Conceptual Combination
                              Auguste Kekule
James Crocker                     Benzene
                                                                  Kary Mullis
Hubble Repair
                                                                     PCR
                          Experimental Studies of
                       Fixation, Incubation & Insight




    Henri Pioncare                                           Archimedes
                                   Beethoven
  Fuschian Functions                                    Displacement Principle
                                Canon for piano
 Smith’s Research in Creative Cognition

                Blocked Memories
            Fixation in Problem Solving
Can        Conformity in Idea Generation
these             Design Fixation
levels
be
aligned?       Recovered Memories
           Incubation in Problem Solving
           Incubation in Design/Invention
       Cognitive Blocks
           R-1 Dominant Response
                 (Blocker)

Stimulus

           R-2 Non-dominant Response
                 (Target)
   Implicit Memory Blocks
          ANALOGY
      R-1 Dominant Response
            (Blocker: ANALOGY)

A_L__GY

      R-2 Non-dominant Response
            (Target: ???????)
          Implicit Memory Blocking
Blocker         Fragment          Target
ANALOGY         A_ L__ GY        ALLERGY
BRIGADE         B_G_A_E          BAGGAGE
          Implicit Memory Blocking
Blocker      Fragment                Target
ANALOGY      A_ L__ GY              ALLERGY
BRIGADE      B_G_A_E                BAGGAGE
COTTAGE      C _ TA_ _ G            CATALOG
CHARTER      CHAR_T_                CHARITY
CLUSTER      C_U_TR_                COUNTRY
CRUMPET      CU_P__T                CULPRIT
DENSITY      D__NITY                DIGNITY
FIXTURE      F_I_URE                FAILURE
HOLSTER      H_ST_R_                HISTORY
TONIGHT      T_NG__T                TANGENT
TRILOGY      TR_G__Y                TRAGEDY
VOYAGER   VO__AGE                   VOLTAGE

            From Smith & Tindell (1997)
           Conclusions
Blocks can be caused by implicit memory of
inappropriate responses.

These implicit memory blocks are
involuntary, and cannot be avoided.




             Smith & Tindell (1997)
   Fixation in Problem Solving

          R-1 Dominant Response
           (Blocker: Fixated Response)

Problem

          R-2 Non-dominant Response
           (Target: Correct Solution)
  Stimuli from Smith & Blankenship (1991)
Remote Associates Test Problems   Blockers   Solutions

SALAD       HEAD        GOOSE     lettuce    egg
  Stimuli from Smith & Blankenship (1991)
Remote Associates Test Problems   Blockers   Solutions

SALAD       HEAD        GOOSE     lettuce    egg

BED         DUSTER       WEIGHT   room       feather

APPLE       HOUSE       FAMILY    green      tree

CAT         SLEEP        BOARD    black      walk

WATER       SKATE        CUBE     sugar      ice

ARM         COAL        STOP      rest       pit
Findings of Smith & Blankenship
Seeing misleading hints and inappropriate
answers impeded problem solving.

               Conclusion
Alignment of Memory & Problem Solving:
Fixation in creative problem solving, like blocking
or interference in memory, can be experimentally
induced by the introduction of misleading hints
and inappropriate answers.

        From Smith & Blankenship (1989, 1991)
Idea Generation: Conceptual Extension
  Imagine another planet similar to Earth…
   …What sort of life forms evolve there?
        Conformity Effects in Creative Idea
                   Generation
            Smith, Ward & Schumacher (1993)
________________________________________________________________


                        R1 - Dominant Response
                                (Blocker, Examples)




 Task



                        R2 - Non-Dominant Responses
                              (Creative Ideas)
Conformity Effects in Creative Idea Generation


      Creative Idea Generation Tasks

1. Create, sketch, and label the parts of
new toys that you have never encountered
before.

2. Create, sketch, and label the parts of
new life forms that might evolve on a
planet similar to Earth.
Sample Creatures from Smith et al. (1993)
Creature Ideas: From Smith et al. (1993)
Sample Toys from Smith et al. (1993)
Toy Idea: Fixated Group from Smith et al. (1993)
Toy Idea: Non-Fixated Group from Smith et al. (1993)
                 Findings
Conformity (fixation) effects were experimentally
induced by the introduction of examples.
Like implicit memory blocking, conformity
(fixation) effects increased when blockers
(examples) were deliberately remembered, but
were not decreased by efforts to avoid examples.

           Alignment Across Levels:
Conformity in creative ideation is similar to
blocking in memory & problem solving.
 Fixation Effects in Creative
    Engineering Design
          Creative Design Tasks

1. Create, sketch, and label the parts of a
new measuring cup for blind people.

2. Create, sketch, and label the parts of a
new inexpensive spill-proof coffee cup. Do
not use drinking straws or mouthpieces.
Measuring Cup for Blind from Jansson & Smith (1991)
               Results
Seeing the example design greatly
increased the number of designs that were:

      Non-infinitely variable.

      Lacking an overflow mechanism.
Spill-Proof Cup from Jansson & Smith (1991)
                            Create, sketch, and
                            label the parts of a new
                            inexpensive spill-proof
                            coffee cup. Do not use
                            drinking straws or
                            mouthpieces.
               Results
Seeing the example design greatly
increased the number of designs that:

      Have a straw or mouthpiece.

      Leak.
            Conclusions
Fixation/blocking affects the creative
conceptual design process.

Even explicitly identified negative features
of examples could not be avoided.

Evidence of Alignment: Both college
students and professional engineers
experienced design fixation.
Part 1: Blocking in Memory, Problem
Solving & Creative Ideation




Part 2: Recovery (Incubation) in
Memory, Problem Solving &
Creative Ideation.
Resolving Cognitive Blocks
  -Incubated Reminiscence Effects
  -Incubation in Resolving TOT states
  -Incubation in Creative Problem Solving
  -Incubation in Conceptual Design
Incubation & the Resolution of Tip-Of-the-Tongue (TOT) States
                      Choi & Smith (2005)




                   Incubation Effect
Incubation & Fixation in RAT Problem Solving

   R                           Incubation Effect
   e   .5
   s
   o   .4         Fixated
   l
   u   .3
   t
   i   .2
   o                                        Not Fixated
   n   .1

       .0
            Immediate Retest                   Delayed Retest

   From Smith & Blankenship (1991)
   Smith & Blankenship (1989)




Incubation Effect
 Conclusions of Incubation Studies
Incubation effects are observed if a break or
delay occurs after initial fixation.

Forgetting blockers (misleading clues)
corresponds with bigger incubation effects.
Conclusions from Creative Cognition Studies

 Creativity can be studied if it is broken
 down into components:
     Processes (e.g., implicit retrieval)
     Structures (e.g., conceptual combination)
     Phenomena (e.g., fixation, incubation)
Alignment can, and must be examined
across levels of complexity and levels of
ecological validity.
      Research on Discovery & Innovation
             The current state of knowledge.
1. Personality characteristics of creative people. (a lot!)
2. How individuals (case studies, anecdotes) innovate. (a lot!)
3. Cognitive components of creative thinking. (some)
4. Group dynamics and creative thinking. (some)
    Research on Discovery & Innovation
  The next big questions funding should target.
1. Principles of Creative Discovery & Innovation.
   Across domains & levels of complexity
2. Mechanisms of Creative Discovery & Innovation.
  Within domains & levels of complexity
3. Methods of Creative Discovery & Innovation.
  Within domains
  Individuals and groups
4. Tools to Augment & Support Creative Discovery & Innovation.
  Information Technologies
    Research on Discovery & Innovation
  The next big questions funding should target.
1. Principles of Creative Discovery & Innovation.
   Across domains & levels of complexity
Examples
  Quantity begets quality (Darwinian Approach).
  Combinations & remote associations yield emergence.
  Avoid premature conceptualization.
  Stand on the shoulders of giants.
  Don’t get stuck in a rut.
    Research on Discovery & Innovation
  The next big questions funding should target.
2. Mechanisms of Creative Discovery & Innovation.
  Within domains & levels of complexity
Examples
  Diversity of team members (group)
  Defocused attention (cognitive)
  Cross activation among brain regions (biological)
    Research on Discovery & Innovation
  The next big questions funding should target.
3. Methods of Creative Discovery & Innovation.
  Within domains
  Individuals and groups
Examples
  Brainstorming
  Morphological synthesis
  C-Sketch
    Research on Discovery & Innovation
  The next big questions funding should target.
4. Tools to Augment & Support Creative Discovery & Innovation.
  Information Technologies
Examples
  Electronic brainstorming
  combinFormation
  IdeaGen
Thank you for coming to my talk!
Our approach to research should lead to a
better understanding of how to improve or
           optimize creativity.
    Questions and Paradoxes of Creativity

       Is creativity special or normal?
      Use vs. Reject Prior Knowledge?
        Imagination vs. Practicality?
Why can you do something creative only when
             you stop trying?
   Domain Specific vs. General Principles?

				
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