How the group affects the mind: a cognitive model of idea generation in groups

Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2006;10(3):186-213. doi: 10.1207/s15327957pspr1003_1.


A model called search for ideas in associative memory (SIAM) is proposed to account for various research findings in the area of group idea generation. The model assumes that idea generation is a repeated search for ideas in associative memory, which proceeds in 2 stages (knowledge activation and idea production), and is controlled through negative feedback loops and cognitive failures (trials in which no idea is generated). We show that (a) turn taking (production blocking) interferes with both stages of the process; (b) ideas suggested by others aid the activation of problem-relevant knowledge; and (c) cognitive failures are important determinants of brainstorming persistence, satisfaction, and enjoyment. Implications for group decision making and group recall are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Association*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Creativity*
  • Decision Making
  • Feedback
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Models, Psychological
  • Problem Solving*