What drives Creative Thinking in Product Design? A Neuroscientific and Psychometric Assessment

PI: Professor Brian Knutson


Employees’ ability to innovate can decide over the death or survival of companies and jobs, which makes it crucial to understand how innovation is created and to learn what management can do to foster creativity. Recently, the concept of design thinking has been introduced to business research on product design. In our project proposal, we set out to investigate what aspects of design thinking are driving individuals’ creativity in product design processes. Using the neuroscientific method of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we develop four experiments to test the impact of the factors inspiration, user-centricity, prototyping, and criticism on the activation of brain regions associated with creative design thinking.

Our projects aims at producing results in four categories: (1) improving our understanding of the antecedents of what humans are really thinking when they are engaged in creative design innovation, (2) publishing the findings in peer-reviewed, scholarly journal outlets, on the basis of this enhanced understanding, (3) constructing a reliable and valid behavioral measure of creative design thinking for self-administration, and (4) conducting workshops on the neural underpinning of creative design thinking that addresses the impact of design thinking on technical, business, and human performance.