Constraints and Consumer Creativity

C. Page Moreau and Darren W. Dahl

in Tools for Innovation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780195381634
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199870264 | DOI:
Constraints and Consumer Creativity

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The ubiquitous phrase “thinking outside of the box” implies that creative thought requires breaking through the walls that constrain ideas. Indeed, it is much easier and cognitively efficient to solve problems by retrieving known, established solutions (i.e., to follow the path of least resistance). Deviations from known solution paths can require significant time and cognitive effort. What the conditions are that force people from retrieving well-established solution paths and the implications of these deviations on both the outcome of a creative task and the person's experience during it are the focus of this chapter. While the importance of constraints in creative tasks has been identified by researchers in psychology, few studies had examined how constraints influence individuals' cognitive processes, their subjective experiences, and the outcomes produced in these situations. An investigation of all of these aspects of creativity is especially critical in a consumer context as manufacturers and retailers vie to develop and sell products that satisfy consumers' apparent demand for creative experiences and unique outcomes. The research presented in this chapter focuses on the influence of input and time constraints, both common contextual factors in consumption situations, on two critical aspects of creative tasks: the outcomes produced and the experience itself. Paradoxically, this chapter finds that input constraints encourage more creative processing, provided the individual is not under significant time constraints. However, operating under such constraints can lead to a less enjoyable creative experience.

Keywords: creativity; constraints; consumer; cognitive processes; problem-solving

Chapter.  8228 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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