Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 36 Number 4 2019 pp. 1284-1312

A Wikipedia-based Method to Support Creative Idea Generation: The Role of Stimulus Relatedness

Wang, Kai and Nickerson, Jeffrey V


Providing stimuli may facilitate idea generation. Creativity theories often suggest that stimuli unrelated to the problem task will improve creativity, but empirical studies have yielded inconsistent results. We propose a Wikipedia-based approach that is able to identify stimuli at different levels of relatedness. Specifically, we use hypertext links in two sections of the Wikipedia article of a focal concept to identify closely related concepts. Repeating this procedure leads to increasingly remote concepts. Using this approach to obtain stimulus concepts, we examine the effect of stimulus relatedness on idea generation. Our results show that stimulus relatedness is positively related to idea quantity and idea usefulness. While creativity theories often suggest using unrelated stimuli to promote idea novelty, results of this experimental study indicate that remotely related stimuli, not unrelated stimuli, tend to improve idea novelty. Because Wikipedia covers knowledge in almost all disciplines, our Wikipedia-based approach can be used to discover appropriate stimuli and thereby support creative work in most domains of knowledge.

Key words and phrases: creativity, idea generation, creativity support systems, creativity stimulation, association in creativity, Wikipedia