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Examining the Intersection of Humor and Creativity

Tuma, Betsy A. and Dickinson, Joan and Cline, Holly and Sullivan, Kathleen (2019) Examining the Intersection of Humor and Creativity. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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It is no secret that comedic improvisation takes a quick mind, active listening skills, and a willingness to explore the unexpected. The same skills are at the heart of ideation and innovation. In this paper, we review the current literature on the use of humor as an ideation tool and examine the crossroads of humor, innovation, and creativity. To begin, it is important to examine the concept of creative confidence as defined by IDEO founders David and Tom Kelley (2013). Creatively confident individuals are willing to take risks, fail, and work at the edges of their comfort zone in order to find creative solutions to problems. Creative confidence builds on the social cognitive theory of psychology which states that social interactions are an important part of how people learn new skills. One core tenet of this theory is guided mastery, a process by which one is moved from phobia to a state of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is a belief that one is capable of completing a task and affecting change. Both innovation and humor rely on an ability to make unusual connections and see things in a different light. Incongruity theory of humor provides an approach for better understanding the commonalities between humor and innovation. In design-thinking sessions, stakeholders come from a variety of backgrounds and social standings. This creates an environment that can be filled with fear of the unknown and a general discomfort with freedom that creative problem solving requires. We propose that humor is the key to creating a level and open playing field where the voices of all stakeholders can be heard. An experimental design solution was implemented to answer the question “Can a set of guided improv exercises increase the quantity of ideas generated during a group ideation session?” Using an experimental-design format, a sample of 94 community college students participated in 3 brainstorming activities of increasing difficulty as part of a 3 session creative-thinking module. The control group received standard instruction for each activity. The improv group received the same instruction with the addition of one comedic improv inspired activity during two of the sessions. Data was collected through pre and post study questionnaires, contemporaneously created artifacts, and video recordings. Data was coded and analyzed using design-thinking methods. We found that participating in improv games as part of a creative-thinking curriculum did increase individual participants creative self-concept and ability to generate ideas. The increased creative-thinking abilities did not seem to translate to collaborative brainstorming activities however. In the case of group ideation, the most influential factors appear to be the preexisting group dynamics and environmental constraints such as room size and seating configuration. These findings suggest further research on the effect of improv games on collaboration in groups, both newly formed and preexisting, is needed. Betsy A. Tuma, M.F.A. Department of Design Thinking, 2019 Radford University

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
Depositing User: Betsy A. Tuma
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2020 20:17
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2020 20:17
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/560

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