When Silver is Gold: Forecasting the Potential Creativity of Initial Ideas

Justin Berg, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 154, September 2019, Pages 96-117

Abstract: Past research on idea evaluation has focused on how individuals evaluate the creativity of finalized ideas. But idea evaluation is also important early in the creative process, when individuals must forecast the potential creativity of rough initial ideas as they decide which to develop. Using five experiments, this paper examines individuals’ accuracy in forecasting the potential creativity of their initial ideas. Participants ranked the potential creativity of their initial ideas before developing them into final ideas. Results suggest that participants tended to under-rank their highest-potential idea. The initial idea that participants thought was their second best tended to actually be their best idea in the end. Broadly, the results suggest that creators exhibit myopia when forecasting the potential creativity of their initial ideas, leading them to overlook their most promising initial ideas. However, forecasting at a higher (more abstract) construal level helped participants identify their best initial idea.

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