The Temptation of Creative Ideas: How We View Ideas Differently Depending on the Source

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The Temptation of Creative Ideas: How We View Ideas Differently Depending on the Source

The next time you come up with a great idea, don’t share it with anyone!

Sounds absurd, right?

Here’s a better way of saying that: If you want your ideas to have the best chance of getting accepted and implemented, then be careful how you share them.

People evaluate ideas differently. They evaluate ideas based on the source, meaning the person who offered the idea. And they take everything they know about that person and overlay it to the idea. If they like the person, they like the idea. And if they don’t like the person, they don’t like the idea. 

Research from the University of Chicago

This insight comes from a University of Chicago research by Dr. Tanya Menon called Tempting Innovation, Tainted Innovation. She describes the paradox of an external idea being viewed as “tempting,” while the exact same idea that comes from an internal source is considered “tainted.”

In other words, the ideas that come from outside of our world are more tempting and more interesting to us. But the ideas that come from right around us are more tainted. The same idea is judged more positively when it comes from an outside source. But it’s judged more negatively when it comes from someone we know. 

That’s why you have to think about how you share your ideas, who you share them with, and find a way to defeat this phenomenon – if you want your ideas to have a better chance of survival.

How to Defeat This Dynamic

  1. Always work in groups of two or three. 

Have very strict ground rules when they share their ideas, making sure they don’t share where the ideas come from. The minute that idea is tagged, everybody in the room will now judge the idea depending on how they feel about the source. 

  1. Put ideas in a digital format. 

Maybe have them write their ideas down and submit them anonymously. Put ideas in front of people in a way they’re completely objective. You’re actually doing the idea a favor because you’re getting it out there without being judged. 

  1. Make sure your ideas are evaluated by a group of people other than those that generated them.

If team A came up with the ideas, have another team evaluate them without knowing who was involved in the ideation. 

To hear more on the concept of tempting and tainted ideas, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 023: The Temptation of Creative Ideas: How We View Ideas Differently Depending on the Source.