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Languages for creative interaction: descriptive language in heteregeneous groups


Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


The 10th European conference on Creativity and Innovation, ECCI-X


This research study is trying to come to grips with creative activity in an intense group effort, such as when musicians improvise or when a group of industrial designers brainstorm to solve a client's problem. One might say that we are studying the handover of the creative spark from one person to the next, inspiration at best accelerating. This paper presents two observational studies of types of groups that are supposed to be creative on a collective level: brainstorming groups at two industrial design firms in Stockholm and two groups of temporarily assembled improvising professional musicians. In the theory of creativity the notion of variety is a fundamental one so that when people with different viewpoints interact, the outcome is potentially innovative. It is all about elaborating interactions where differences fertilize new ideas. But this creatively managed interaction could also lead to a stalemate and even to conflicts where differences and clashes of opinions become strengthened and ingrained. Each profession has developed its own specific language so that, for example, a designer has refined an ability to spontaneously make rough sketches and a musician uses her instruments to clarify a particular meaning or message. In this study the improvisational musicians had no sheet music, a condition that forced them to formulate their aesthetic intentions with sound, playing and singing. One aspect of verbal language limitations is articulated in the concept of “verbal overshadowing”. When subjects in a study were requested to describe a face, a smell or a taste, their words seemed to overshadow their experience. If words prevent thinking or recollection then we might have to be cautious with verbal descriptions. This also points to the importance of the choice of language for mediating ideas. This paper will be dealing with new approaches in the process of forming and mediating unfinished ideas.


@inproceedings{Koping Olsson1526,
author = {Bengt K{\"o}ping Olsson},
title = {Languages for creative interaction: descriptive language in heteregeneous groups},
pages = {1--22},
month = {October},
year = {2007},
booktitle = {The 10th European conference on Creativity and Innovation, ECCI-X },
url = {}