|Ph.D Student||Herrmann Marnina Eden|
|Subject||The Dynamic Relationship Between Constraints and Creativity:|
The Effect of Timing
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Emeritus Gabriela Goldschmidt|
|Professor Ella Miron-Spektor|
|Full Thesis text|
Designers often face new constraints that they did not anticipate in the creativity process such as budget cuts or new deadlines. Extant research on constraints has yielded equivocal findings. Some studies suggest that constraints impede flexible thinking and hinder creativity, while others suggest that they can help overcome mental fixedness and push us to find less trivial solutions. However, these studies overlooked the timing in which the constraints were introduced. We examine whether the timing in which the constraints are introduced in the design process impacts creativity. Is it better to introduce the constraints prior to performing the task, or maybe at later stages? Across three laboratory studies we found that designers are most creative when they are free from constraints. However, given that constraint-free situations are rare, introducing constraints at the initial stages of the creative process enhances creativity relative to introducing them at a later stage. We also distinguished between two late stages, namely introducing the constraints during the idea generation stage or during the following development stage. We found that introducing the constraints during the idea generation stage is more detrimental to creativity than introducing them at the last stage of development, after the ideas has been generated already. Additionally, we explore the moderating effect of a paradox mindset (a mindset which allows individuals to accept and value tensions and leads them to search for solutions encompassing seemingly conflicting ideas) on the relationship between constraint timing and creativity. We found that a paradox mindset will be most beneficial to creativity when constraints are introduced in the development stage as introducing constraints at this stage in the design process will create tension between the designers’ task of finalizing the design and the new requirement of assimilating constraints. These results can help explain some of the mixed findings on the constraint-creativity relationship as they show that the same constraints can both inhibit and encourage creativity depending on when they are introduced in the process. Practical implications for designers and managers are discussed.