Psychology of Design

Do Design Thinking (DT) activities facilitate Psychological Safety (PS) and Collaborative Creativity in Teams?

PI: Dr. Larry Leifer


Design Thinking has been related to team environments, which are inherently argumentative, social processes in which teams define and negotiate decisions. Such social processes can facilitate or prevent the generation of creative solutions. The primary concern of this paper is to study psychological safety (PS) and the implications of PS from the individual to the organizational level. PS is the experience of the feeling of speaking up with relevant ideas, questions, or concerns and when colleagues trust and respect each other and feel able – even obligated to be candid. A longitudinal study using Adams (2001) ping-pong ball experiment is used as a design challenge to analyze team settings, team activities, team situations (i.e. PS), creative capability and performance of the team, and team interrelations. PS measurements include physiological changes, gestures, and verbal exchanges to assess team psychological safety. Novel ideas and the value the ideas elicit can measure team creativity. Moving forward, we hope the findings of this paper will give insight into team “bio-sensor tools” that can be used to assess team cohesion and improve team collaboration and team cooperation.