Effects of Process and Outcome Accountability on Idea Generation

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Previous research on the effects of outcome and process accountability on decision making has neglected the preceding phase of idea generation. We conducted a 2 (outcome accountability: yes vs. no) × 2 (process accountability: yes vs. no) experiment (N = 147) to test the effects of accountability on quantity and quality of generated ideas in a product design task. Furthermore, we examined potential negative side effects of accountability (i.e., stress and lengthened decision making). We found that (a) outcome accountability had a negative effect on quantity of ideas and (b) process accountability extended the idea generation process. Furthermore, any type of accountability (c) had a negative effect on uniqueness of ideas, (d) did not affect the quality of the idea that was selected, and (e) increased stress. Moreover, the negative effect of accountability on uniqueness of ideas was mediated by stress.

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