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You’ve Been Framed! The Effect of Opportunity and Prosocial Framing on the Novelty and Usefulness of Student Solutions

Bertels, Heidi M. J. (2018). You’ve Been Framed! The Effect of Opportunity and Prosocial Framing on the Novelty and Usefulness of Student Solutions. Journal of Management Education, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 650-689.

Abstract

Creativity, the production of ideas that are both novel and useful, is increasingly important to businesses’ long-term success. This study looks at whether instructors can use framing—increasing the saliency of some aspects of a perceived reality in a communication—to affect the creativity of student solutions. More specifically, building on research on issues interpretation, the study examines the effect of opportunity framing on the novelty of student ideas. Building on the literature on perspective taking, the study also looks at the effect of prosocial framing on the usefulness of student ideas. Using a sample of 76 students, I find that students who received an assignment description that included opportunity framing produced more novel solutions. Students who received the same assignment but with prosocial framing created less useful solutions. These findings indicate that the novelty and usefulness (i.e., the creativity) of student solutions can be affected by framing and suggest that framing can be a valuable tool for instructors aiming to encourage creativity. Further, by demonstrating that different types of framing affect novelty and usefulness, this study also reinforces the importance of measuring novelty and usefulness independently rather than looking at creativity as a composite measure.

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