M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentSoibelman Daniela
SubjectAre my Ideas Original? The Cues Underlying Originality
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisors ASSOCIATE PROF. Ella Miron-Spektor
ASSOCIATE PROF. Rakefet Ackerman
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Metacognition is a research domain which has been evolved as a sub-domain of memory research. As a result, it is traditionally focused on learning and memory tests. However, people often face ill-defined problems that call for creative thinking, rather than providing a particular response. To date, most creativity research has focused on factors that enhance or inhibit the originality of generated ideas, as evaluated by others. Much less is known about how people judge their own originality.

The present study addresses this gap by applying principles of metacognitive research to advance knowledge about originality judgments. Previous research has suggested that it is more likely for the less original ideas to appear early, while the more original ones appear later in the stream of ideas. In two experiments I used the Divergent Thinking Task, in which people are asked to list as many possible uses for each presented object as they can.

Unlike previous research, in Study 1, I asked the participants to rate the originality of each idea by assessing what percentage of their peers would produce the same idea. Results suggested that people justifiably judge ideas that come to mind first as less original than later ones. However, they judge their ideas as less original than they really are regardless of their serial position. Thus, although people acknowledge the increase in originality along the stream of ideas, they do not appreciate their own originality enough all along.

A potential explanation for these findings was examined. The metacognitive literature is rich in exposure of heuristic cues that underlie various types of judgments. In Study 2, I considered the unique and combined effects of two heuristic cues that were hypothesized to underlie originality judgments: (a) Fluency?the ease with which an idea comes to mind, and (b) False consensus?the tendency of people to compare themselves to others similar to them, and thus refer to themselves as common thinkers. Two manipulations took place for disturbing the two cues.  Disturbing fluency was done by mixing the order of generated idea before judging their originality. Disturbing referring to peers was done by asking for originality judgment without pointing to peers’ ideas. Results revealed that both cues contribute to originality judgments, especially in the first ideas. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed .