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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social Interaction Dynamics Modulates Collective Creativity


In an experimental study, we investigated how social interaction dynamics affect collective creativity. Pairs of participants collaborated in a computer game, creating “beautiful and interesting” shapes by moving tiles on a large touchscreen. We identified naturally emerging interaction styles by applying k-means clustering on participants’ tile moves. The game allowed us to quantify the unfolding creative process in a well-defined search space. Pairs characterized by a single dominating member tended to visit fewer areas of the solution space, stay there longer and created on average more (but less original) shapes. In contrast, pairs that took turns with every tile move tended to explore more, stayed in each area of the solution space for less time and created fewer (but more original) shapes. While previous literature found conflicting effects of ‘creating with another’, the current paper suggests naturally emerging interaction styles as a differentiating factor underlying how collective creativity unfolds.

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