An examination of fixation in brainstorming
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In this dissertation, two areas of creativity are reviewed. “Fixation” refers to the inability to solve a problem or retrieve a memory due to prior experience or an inappropriate solution path. Brainstorming is the process of generating as many possible ideas on a topic as possible. From this synthesis, it was hypothesized that fixation occurs in brainstorming. Three experiments tested the predictions of this theory. It was revealed that the exchanging of ideas in a group setting leads to members exploring fewer domains of ideas. Through a controlled setting, it was also found that people conform their ideas to ideas suggested by others. The last experiment tested incubation as a mechanism by which to reduce fixation in brainstorming. Findings were mixed but show that taking breaks can be effective in increasing brainstorming efficiency. The dissertation added several new findings to the field. Fixation was found to occur in brainstorming. The induced fixation led to participants decreasing the novelty of their ideas. Temporal analyses provided insight into how various measures (quantity, variety, novelty) fluctuate over the course of a brainstorming session. Lastly, this study showed that taking a break could lead to increasing the effectiveness of a brainstorming session.
Kohn, Nicholas William (2008). An examination of fixation in brainstorming. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from