ABSTRACT: Understanding the Group Size Effect in Electronic Brainstorming
A number of studies on electronic brainstorming have found that large electronic groups can facilitate the number of ideas generated relative to control groups of similar numbers of solitary performers (nominal groups). Thus far there is no clear evidence for the basis of this facilitative effect. The most likely explanation is that group members benefit from exposure to the wide range of ideas in large groups. Since most electronic brainstorming studies appear to divide the presented ideas into subfolders to avoid overloading participants with too many ideas, this practice may be important for demonstration of a benefit of exposure to a large number of ideas. The present study was designed to assess the role of number of ideas and number of folders on individual idea generation and to eliminate some alternative interpretations for the group size effect. Participants performed an idea generation task on computers while being exposed to either no ideas, 28 ideas, or 112 ideas. The 28 and 112 ideas were presented in either one, four, or eight folders. The results indicated that only the number of ideas factor was important for facilitating idea generation.