Inside USD

New Ideas: Do They Look Better from Afar?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Swiffer Dusters. The Crest SpinBrush. Olay Regenerist skin cream.

Proctor & Gamble recognized these were great ideas. But what about all the great ones that are rejected?

University of San Diego Associate Professor of Management Jennifer Mueller has found that firms and organizations may be more receptive to ideas that come from faraway.

In a study published recently in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, she and other researchers from the University of Southern California and the Rady School of Management at UCSD, told 168 participants about an idea for a running shoe with nanotechnology that decreases blistering by improving shoe fit.

Those who were told the idea was generated by someone “faraway” gave it “significantly higher ratings” than those told the idea came from “nearby.” “Higher levels of psychological distance related to significantly higher ratings of a creative idea,” she said.

Why is this?

When people think about ideas from faraway, they look at them in a more “abstract” way and concentrate on the big picture rather than concentrating on the small details that make them prone to rejecting the idea, Mueller theorizes.

The study is important because Internet-based technologies have opened a “floodgate” of ideas and innovation increasingly involves “recognizing creative ideas, rather than generating them,”  she noted.

The findings “shed light on why people desire but often reject creativity” and suggest solutions for companies, venture capitalists, government and other organizations to better spot creative ideas, Mueller said.

Read the full article and learn more to learn more about Professor Mueller and her work.

– Liz Harman

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