Whereas past research has focused on the downsides of task switching, the present research uncovers a potential upside: increased creativity. In two experiments, we show that task switching can enhance two principal forms of creativity — divergent thinking (Study 1) and convergent thinking (Study 2) — in part because temporarily setting a task aside reduces cognitive fixation. Participants who continually alternated back and forth between two creativity tasks outperformed both participants who switched between the tasks at their discretion and participants who attempted one task for the first half of the allotted time before switching to the other task for the second half. Importantly, Studies 3a–3d reveal that people overwhelmingly fail to adopt a continual-switch approach when incentivized to choose a task switching strategy that would maximize their creative performance. These findings provide insights into how individuals can ''switch on" creativity when navigating multiple creative tasks.
Lu, Guannan, Modupe Akinola, and Malia Mason. "'Switching on' creativity: Task switching can increase creativity by reducing cognitive fixation." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 139 (March 2017): 63-75.
Each author name for a Columbia Business School faculty member is linked to a faculty research page, which lists additional publications by that faculty member.
Each topic is linked to an index of publications on that topic.