Brainstorming is a widely used method to stimulate creativity in problem solving. In a structured session, people (usually in a group) generate as many creative ideas as possible. Social psychologists have mainly studied whether it is more effective to brainstorm in a group or alone, and have come to the counterintuitive conclusion that brainstorming often is better done alone.

Underlying the brainstorming procedure are two basic principles. First, people are encouraged to come up with as many ideas as possible, because the more ideas, the more likely it is that good ideas are among them (“quantity breeds quality”). Second, although eventually the quality of ideas should be evaluated, idea generation and evaluation are strictly separated (“deferment of judgment”), because fear of negative evaluation interferes with ...

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