Priming uncertainty avoidance values: Influence of virtual reality stimuli on design creativity in ideation

Previous studies have clearly established the impact of culture on design creativity. For example, the presence of cultural values with low uncertainty avoidance (UA, the degree of anxiety and risk aversion that people feel during ambiguous situations) is linked to low workability of creative ideas. Currently, there is limited research on potential remedies to alleviate the impact of culture, specifically with respect to UA. Therefore, this study investigates the use of technology to prime UA cultural values and mitigate their potential negative impacts on design creativity. This was achieved using stimuli that had been generated by virtual reality (VR) technology and presented in an immersive environment. Participants in an experimental study were exposed to VR stimuli designed to either decrease or increase their UA. The results showed that the VR stimuli had successfully increased and decreased low and high UA values, respectively, which mitigated the influence of UA on design creativity. Furthermore, the VR stimuli influenced the emphasis of the participants on ideation, with lowered and enhanced UA values leading to them prioritizing novelty and usefulness, respectively. Overall, the findings provided evidence that VR could be leveraged from a psychological standpoint to reduce cultural influences on creativity through targeted priming. These findings indicated the essential implications of the study in terms of understanding the effect of immersive technologies in shaping human behaviors and mindsets.