How Do We Identify Good Ideas? | Wired Science | Wired.com

Very interesting finding. Unconsciousness not necessarily comes up with the brightest idea but better in sorting out the good ones. 

The inconsistency of genius is a consistent theme of creativity: Even those blessed with ridiculous talent still produce works of startling mediocrity. (The Beatles are the exception that proves the rule, although their subsequent solo careers prove that even Lennon and McCartney were fallible artists.) The larger point is that mere imagination is not enough

A new study led by Simone Ritter of the Radboud University in the Netherlands sheds some light on this mystery. In the first experiment, 112 university students were given two minutes to come up with creative ideas that might alleviate a mundane problem: improving the experience of waiting in line at a cash register. The subjects were then divided into two groups: Half of them went straight to work, while the others were first instructed to perform an unrelated task for two minutes. (They played a silly little videogame.) The purpose of this delay was to give the unconscious a chance to percolate, to let that subterranean supercomputer invent new concepts for the supermarket queue.

There was no difference between the groups in terms of creative output — both the conscious and unconscious/distracted subjects came up with the same number of new ideas.

Here’s where things get interesting. After writing down as many ideas as they could think of, both groups were asked to choose which of their ideas were the most creative. While those in the conscious condition only picked their most innovative concepts about 20 percent of the time — they confused their genius with their mediocrity — those who had been distracted located their best ideas about 55 percent of the time. In other words, they were twice as good at figuring out which concepts deserved more attention.

via How Do We Identify Good Ideas? | Wired Science | Wired.com.

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