The best form of medicine? Using humour to enhance design creativity

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As well as playing an important role in social bonds and group dynamics, humour has a long association with creativity and creative thinking. This study attempts to utilise this relationship in the context of design by enhancing brainstorming with the use of humour. The theories of Incongruity, Superiority and Relief are central in the creation of humour. This research hypothesises that these can be applied to enhance creative performance in brainstorming by (1) inducing a humorous atmosphere through stimuli, and (2) applying jocular structure to the brainstorming process itself. A study of three brainstorming methods (classical, silent structured and video-enhanced) was undertaken, the results analysed using the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, and possible influences of humour on levels of creativity evaluated. The results in this indicated that using a humorous stimulus did not have a positive effect, although there remains a strong case in the literature for further investigation. Structuring the brainstorming session did increase fluency and originality, and a number of insights for creative team formation and working are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • creativity
  • humour
  • brainstorming
  • design methods


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