Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Koutstaal on the Creative-Cliff Illusion

Headshot of Dr. Wilma Koutstaal
Have you ever experienced that it is increasingly harder to come across new ideas after an initial creative brainstorming session? You may assume that creativity declines over time; however, this is not true and in fact, this phenomenon is called the “creative-cliff illusion.”

A BBC Worklife article titled, “How the 'creative-cliff illusion' limits our ideas,” explains the theory that because the most obvious solutions arise first, the later mental effort to come up with further solutions can cause feelings of frustration and the sense that your creativity is declining. Although the number of ideas may have decreased, the quality of each idea could be much higher. Wilma Koutstaal, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota, believes that recognizing the creative-cliff illusion could be useful for anyone trying to innovate. It’s important to be patient with our thought process and allow ourselves time to have ideas emerge. The BBC reached out to Wilma in connection with her recent paper demonstrating the important role of persistence, or "dwelling," in generating original ideas.

Composed by Flora Pollack, communications assistant.