Creative in Someone Else’s Shoes? The Effect of Perspective Taking on Creativity
Employees in organizations often have to generate novel products, services, and even entire business ideas that will appeal to others. One, seemingly prudent, way to gauge what others will like is by attempting to take their perspective, and thus look at the world from their point of view. However, in this paper, I argue that taking another person’s perspective seems to have detrimental rather than beneficial effects on novel idea generation. I demonstrate in two studies that taking the perspective of someone of the other gender decreases the novelty of the ideas generated for that gender (Study1), and that this effect holds, even under counter-stereotypical conditions, which are generally conducive to novel idea generation (Study 2). Additionally, even when taking a creative person’s perspective (same or other gender) novel idea generation is stifled (Study 3). Last, it seems that this effect is due to the cooperative mind set that is activated by perspective-taking because a competitive mind set was able to mitigate the stifling effects of perspective-taking on novelty (Study 4). Since perspective-taking tends to occur more often in cooperative, rather than competitive, situations in naturalistic settings, I conclude that taking another person’s perspective might most often be detrimental to novel idea generation.