All of us at one stage of life needed to be creative. From early childhood when you draw pictures at kinder to be an adult and design a living room for your family. So, creativity is part of our daily life even without we notice.
If you search the internet you will find hundreds of articles about increasing creativity and how some people are more creative than others. But here we are talking about a general rule that can apply to any creative work and any person who want to do something creative.
A study by Klemmer, Dow, and Kulkarni (2014) shows the effect of early and repeated exposure to examples and how it will increase the creativity. Their study showed the result of an online creativity experiment that examined the effect of example timing on creative output.
Some research suggested examples as a foundation for a creative practice. Being exposed to examples prior work is an established technique in design. Seeing other people’s work is a good step to start your creative move. It is a good idea to know as much as you can about the project you are starting. Maybe it gives the insight that your creative idea is not very unique as well!
But there are different ways of looking at examples. You can look at the examples at the start of your project, or at the end, or several times during the creative work.
These different strategies suggest that example may modify the creative process differently depending on the point in the design process at which they are presented. But which one is ideal?
The survey to find this out was done by an online creativity experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants in the experiment made drawing of an alien creature as a creative task. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: early example, late example, early and late example, and a group with no example. At the end the creativity and conformity were measured by rater techniques.
The result from this study suggested that while exposure to examples increases conformity, early exposure to example increase the creativity in the final output, whereas later exposure doesn’t provide this result. In simple words, early exposure will increase the creativity and late exposure to the example will increase conformity and compliance.
Furthermore, exposure to example followed by prototyping and following re-exposure to the same example improves creativity even more.
Another way the group with the example got benefit from the exposure was having fewer drawings and saving time and energy on their work which can be applied to any commercial creative work.
So, I hope this study makes designer and creative people a bit more comfortable looking at other people job and get inspired by them!
Originally published on Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub Blog