Evaluating the predictive validity of four divergent thinking tasks for the originality of design product ideation

Abbey K. Erwin, Khue Tran, Wilma Koutstaal

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12 Scopus citations


What factors predict the originality of domain-specific idea generation? Replicating and extending an earlier study using a Design Product Ideation task in an introductory university design course, the present research, grounded in the componential theory of creativity, assessed the relative contributions to originality of design ideation from five factors: divergent thinking, personality traits, general cognitive ability, prior creative experience, and taskspecific challenge/interest. The Design Product Ideation task asked participants, at two different timepoints, to propose ideas for products to improve either the experience of urban gardening or of outdoor picnics. Four divergent thinking tasks were used, including the predominantly conceptually-based Alternative Uses Task, a newly developed perceptuallybased Figural Interpretation Quest, and two modified verbal tasks from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (Torrance Suppose and Torrance Product). Regression analyses revealed that, at both timepoints, originality on the Design Product Ideation tasks was predicted by multiple divergent thinking, personality, and task-based factors. Originality of responses to the Figural Interpretation Quest was a significant predictor at both timepoints, and continued to add incremental value after controlling for the other divergent thinking measures. Collectively, these findings indicate that the four divergent thinking tasks, though related, do not measure identical constructs, and that many individual difference components, both trait-based (e.g., openness to experience) and more specifically task-based (e.g., perceived challenge of the task), shape creative performance. Methodologically, and from a practical standpoint, these findings underscore the value of incorporating both conceptual and perceptual measures of divergent thinking as contributors to originality in domain-specific idea generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0265116
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Erwin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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  • Journal Article


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