Previous work by the authors suggested that performing conflict-processing tasks improved subsequent creative output on the Alternative Uses Test (AUT). Although a positive relationship was established, the number of conflict levels was limited, i.e., previous work included only conflict and no-conflict conditions. Two online follow-up studies included an additional high-conflict level to better understand the relationship between conflict processing and creative performance. These two follow-up studies did not replicate the previous study’s results, but revealed similar, yet non-significant trends.

The current paper compares the three studies, emphasizing differences between them, including study environments, instructions, types of tasks used as interventions, and participant backgrounds, etc. Key conclusions relevant to future, particularly online, studies in design creativity and beyond are as follows.

Effective in-person studies may not translate well to online studies, where participant distraction and lack of motivation are more difficult to detect, monitor and control. Imposing a minimum number of correct responses to complete study tasks may reduce the effects of distraction and lack of motivation. Without in-person presence of both the researcher and the study participant, enhanced feedback for online responses may promote comprehension of instructions. However, enabling online participants to ask questions directly can further reduce confusion and improve task completion.

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