The friendly enemies: emergence effects in word choice for story generation responses to conceptual combinations

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University of Alabama Libraries

Conceptual combination, the blending of separate ideas to produce new categories, is often accompanied by emergence, a process by which novel attributes that are not present in either parent idea emerge when the concepts are combined. Previous research shows that emergence is more common when the constituents of a combination are atypical than when they are typical, thus raising the possibility that the former may be more likely to provoke creativity. The present study extended previous findings by comparing stories written in response to typical combined concepts versus atypical combined concepts. In addition, the study examined individual differences in creative capacity and working memory as factors that may underlie people's likelihood of exploiting the creative potential of unusual combinations. Stories written from atypical story seeds were not rated by coders as being more creative than those written from similar seeds, but they did contain more verbs, auxiliary verbs and adverbs, as identified by the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) program, possibly indicating a potential for more action and description in stories generated from unusual prompts. The individual difference variables were not predictive of performance on the story task.

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Cognitive psychology