Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 36 Number 1 2019 pp. 230-258

Visual Background Music: Creativity Support Systems with Priming

Minas, Randall K and Dennis, Alan R


Developing creative solutions to problems is often a key element of organizational decision making. Much research has been done on systems to support individual creativity, called Creativity Support Systems (CSS). Commercially available CSS and past CSS research have offered either a structured approach to the problem or provided stimuli to help the user think about the problem in a different way. We conducted two experiments testing an approach that builds on priming research by providing stimuli related to achievement on the screen as users worked, as what we call visual background music. Our findings show that this approach increased an individual’s creative output by 10–40% depending upon the experiment and outcome measure. Under the conditions of our studies, the priming stimuli we used had the strongest effect on the flexibility pathway by broadening the user’s consideration of the solution space, rather than the persistence pathway of encouraging more ideas within a topic category. A key implication of this study for CSS design is to add a banner that has rotating pictures about achievement to existing CSS.

Key words and phrases: priming, creativity, creativity support systems, idea generation, dual pathway model, stimuli provider, visual background music, priming creativity