Creativity: The role of unconscious processes in idea generation and idea selection
Simone M. Ritter, Rick B. van Baaren, Ap Dijksterhuis
Today’s world of continuous change thrives on creative individuals. Anecdotal reports sug- gest that creative performance benefits from unconscious processes. Empirical research on the role of the unconscious in creativity, though, is inconsistent and thus far has focused mainly on one aspect of the creative process – idea generation. This is the first study to assess the role of the unconscious mind for both idea generation and idea selection. Partic- ipants generated creative ideas immediately, after conscious thought, or after a period of distraction during which unconscious thought was hypothesized to take place. After hav- ing listed their ideas, participants selected their most creative idea. Performance in idea generation was similar between conscious and unconscious thought; however, individuals who had unconsciously thought about ideas were better in selecting their most creative idea. These findings shed more light on the role of unconscious processes in creativity, and provide a means to enhance creative performance.