Manipulating activation level of examples affects conformity in a creative generation paradigm
Taylor, Randall Scott
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Three experiments examined the effects of activating previously experienced information upon inadvertent plagiarism (also termed conformity by Ward, Smith, & Schumacher, 1993) in a creative generation task. Using Ward et al.’s (1993) paradigm, participants were initially shown examples of space creatures that shared three features: a tail, four legs, and antennae. Participants were later asked to create their own space creatures and admonished not to use any of the features of the examples. In Experiment 1, participants who saw experimenter provided examples of space creatures plagiarized more of the examples’ common features when encouraged to recall the features of the examples during an interim task than when they were not encouraged to recall the features. Experiment 2 examined the generality of this finding by having individuals read descriptions of the creatures that either did or did not include the common features of the examples. Those who read descriptions with the common features prior to drawing tended to plagiarize them more often. Experiment 3 compared conformity when features were activated through description of the example creatures versus when example features were ‘deactivated’ through description of Earth animals that do not share the common features of the examples. Those who described Earth animals were less likely to plagiarize the common features of the examples than those who described the examples during the interim task. Consistency of the results with predictions made by the source-monitoring framework (Johnson, Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993) and activation accounts of plagiarism are discussed.