Design recommendations for augmenting creative tasks with computational priming
Supporting creativity is a grand challenge in HCI. A critical component of creativity is the ability for divergent thinking, and divergent thinking can be fostered through looking at the problem through the lens of a different person, by assuming a role. Prior work found that assuming a role and affective stimulation with images may lead individuals to be more creative. In this work, we investigate the use of roles in stimulating the creativity of individuals in two complementary studies. In the first study, we implemented an online instrument for augmenting creativity with roles and images, and recruited crowd workers (n = 60) to complete a divergent thinking task while assuming a role. Interestingly, and in contrast to earlier findings, our analysis could not confirm the computational priming having an effect on the outcome of a small batch of creative tasks. In the second study, we observed the effect of roles on the ideation process of individuals when they reach an impasse in the flow of ideas. Our complementary studies highlight that adopting roles can help when one runs out of ideas, but this is not a silver bullet for improving divergent thinking, especially in online crowd-sourcing environments that are increasingly being used for experiments and data collection in behavioural science. Our work informs the design of future crowd-powered creativity support tools and contributes a timely case study to the body of literature in the growing field of creativity support online.