Ideas are craftwork

PhD project by Julia Gumula

For decades, the results of social psychology research on idea generation have been consistent: Brainstorming in groups is not as effective as when individuals deal with the task of generating an idea on their own.

But social psychologists have not yet investigated under which circumstances the uniqueness and therefore the novelty of ideas can be influenced positively.

Based on the Collins and Loftus spreading-activation theory (1975), Julia Gumula explores whether cognitive semantic jumps occurring during the idea generation process enhance the novelty and the uniqueness of ideas created in ideation settings. For this purpose she has developed an approach to training idea generation, in which the test participants are inspired to perform cognitive semantic jumps. Control groups are offered a similar training in ideation with one difference: the cognitive semantic jumps are skipped during the idea generating processes.

Groups are randomly assigned as either experimental or control groups. Test participants in these workshops are students in various advanced professional training programs studying to become German-certified master craftsmen.

The working title of Ms. Gumula’s PhD project is “Idea Production in the Small- and Medium-sized Sectors – Development and Evaluation of Ideation Training for Master’s Students in Skilled Crafts and Trades.” It is part of the Qualification Upgrading in SME graduate program founded by the Hans Böckler Foundation at the Göttingen Graduate School of Social Sciences.


Julia Gumula with participants of her study:Students becoming
German-certified master craftsmen in front of the Chamber of Crafts
and Trades in Madgeburg