Getting to the novel ideas: Exploring the alternative uses test of divergent thinking

Barry Kudrowitz, Caitlin Dippo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Alternative Uses Test is a measure of divergent thinking in which participants are asked to list non-obvious uses for a common object in a fixed amount of time. In this study, participants were asked to list alternative uses for a paperclip in three minutes. From a pool of over 2000 participants including engineering professionals and students, 293 were chosen and evaluated. Using infrequency of responses as a measure of novelty, it was found that participants that produced more responses had more novel responses and a higher average novelty score. Later responses were significantly more novel than early responses and unoriginality of responses decreased with quantity. On average, a participant would list 9 responses before arriving at highly novel responses. Participants that did not reach 9 responses in the study were likely to have few if any highly novel responses. If this test maps to real world problem solving, it suggests that the first ideas we think of are likely to have been suggested already by others and thus not original. The results of this study can help restructure the format of the Alternative Uses Test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication25th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; ASME 2013 Power Transmission and Gearing Conference
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
ISBN (Print)9780791855928
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
EventASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE 2013 - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Aug 4 2013Aug 7 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference
Volume5

Other

OtherASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE 2013
CountryUnited States
CityPortland, OR
Period8/4/138/7/13

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