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Electronic Brainstorming with a Chatbot Partner: A Good Idea Due to Increased Productivity and Idea Diversity

Provisionally accepted
The final version of the article will be published here soon pending final quality checks
  • 1Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, Tilburg University, Netherlands
  • 2St. Joost School of Art and Design, Avans University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands

Brainstorming is a creative technique that fosters collaboration to enhance idea generation. The occurrence of evaluation apprehension, a fear of being evaluated negatively by others, however, can stymy brainstorming. How the advantages of collaboration can be leveraged while evaluation apprehension is prevented is an open scientific and practical problem. In this brief research report, it is proposed that chatbots could provide a solution. Chatbots can be designed to share ideas with their users, facilitating inspiration. Compared to human beings, chatbots are also perceived as possessing limited agency and evaluative capacity. This could reduce evaluation apprehension. Given that chatbots are often embedded in a textual chat interface, social cues (picture, name, description) can reinforce the perceived chatbot identity, enhancing its alleged effects on evaluation apprehension and subsequently on brainstorming performance. These conjectures were tested in an online 2x2 between-subjects experiment (n = 120) where people were instructed to brainstorm with a partner that was framed as either a chatbot or human being (but followed the same automated script), with or without the presence of social cues. The results showed that brainstorming with a chatbot led participants to produce more ideas, with more diversity than brainstorming with an alleged human being. Social cues enhanced the effect on idea diversity, but only with the chatbot. No significant effects on evaluation apprehension were found. The contribution of this study is therefore that chatbots can be used for effective human-machine teaming during brainstorming, but this enhancement is not explained by its effects on evaluation apprehension.

Keywords: Chatbot, brainstorming, Creativity Support Tools, Evaluation apprehension, Human-machine teaming

Received: 21 Feb 2022; Accepted: 10 May 2022.

Copyright: © 2022 Wieland, de Wit and de Rooij. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Britt Wieland, Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands