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Does design thinking training increase creativity? Results from a field experiment with middle-school students
Innovation  (IF2.372),  Pub Date : 2021-03-22, DOI: 10.1080/14479338.2021.1897468
Hayagreeva Rao, Phanish Puranam, Jasjit Singh


Design thinking remains mired in controversy. Its proponents claim that it enhances not just confidence but also creativity, while the opponents question whether it does anything beyond building unfounded confidence. To bring rigorous evidence to this debate, we designed a randomised field experiment amongst school children served by a major non-governmental organisation in rural India. The findings reveal that the design thinking training did not just increase confidence: it also significantly increased ideational fluency and elaboration in a divergent thinking task, although the originality and flexibility of the generated ideas was on average lower in the treatment group than the control group. We also find that the increase in confidence occurred primarily among female students, whereas the increase in ideational fluency and elaboration occurred for both genders in our study.