Anonymity and Creativity

Last registered on May 04, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Anonymity and Creativity
Initial registration date
November 22, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 22, 2019, 11:05 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
May 04, 2021, 6:06 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Southern Denmark

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Research on the effect of anonymity on individual’s creativity in idea generation sessions is inconclusive: anonymous brainstorming techniques supposedly perform better since they preclude evaluation apprehension; non-anonymous brainstorming techniques supposedly perform better since they reduce free riding. In this project I suggest brainstorming with selective anonymity as a new method (anonymous brainstorming in which the identity of the idea creators, their ideas, and the ranking is revealed after evaluation, but only for the top rated ideas). I expect that the proposed method yields more and better ideas than the two traditional methods, as it dampens the inhibitors at work in each of the other methods. I plan to use a randomized control trial to check whether this new method is more powerful than the traditional ones in terms of generating idea quantity and idea quality in idea generation sessions.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Schweisfurth, Tim. 2021. "Anonymity and Creativity." AEA RCT Registry. May 04.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Quantity of ideas
Quality of ideas (rated by raters)

Quality of ideas
Novelty per idea
Use value per idea
Average novelty per participant
Average use value per participant
Most novel idea per participant
Most usable idea per participant
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Number of ideas Number of ideas suggested by participant
Novelty per idea Novelty rated on 1-9 scale by three independent raters
Use value per idea Use value rated on 1-9 scale by three independent raters
Average novelty per participant Average rated novelty across all ideas per participant
Average use value per participant Average rated use value across all ideas per participant
Most novel idea per participant Highest novelty rating per participant
Most usable idea per participant Highest use value rating per participant

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Participants will be invited to take part in a brainstorming challenge. This could be either idea development within the firm, external crowdsourcing, a hackathon, or a similar format. The brainstorming will be conducted with a digital tool, such that participants can take part using a computer or a cell phone. Ideally, all participants take part at the same time. I will provide no extrinsic incentives to participation since this might limit creativity (Amabile, 1996). Please note that even if I use a digital tool to collect ideas (Toubia, 2006), the findings are likely to be agnostic to whether the study is performed online or offline. Brainstorming methods do not work better or worse only because they are being conducted offline or offline (Pinsonneault et al., 1999a).
Before the idea creation session starts, individuals will be randomly assigned to one of the three treatments. They will then be informed about the specific brainstorming challenge which will be designed in conjunction with the program delivery organization. They are also informed that they can submit more than one idea. As an example, please find a brainstorming challenge used in Girotra et al. (2010), where the participants in the brainstorming were students:
Experimental Design Details
The type of trial that is to be carried out is an explanatory trial. The trial seeks to understand how different types of anonymity regimes affect creative behaviour of participant in brainstorming setting. Brainstorming sessions are widely used in different context but always represent a setting in which participants are taken out of their natural environments and day to day jobs. Brainstorming sessions represent highly controllable environments, in which RCTs can be run with high internal validity. Nevertheless, they also represent high external validity, as the proposed setting and intervention can be transferred to practice in the same or very similar ways.
I suggest three arms of the experiment, one for the treatment and two control arms (see Figure 3). The reason for this choice lies in the fact that brainstorming research has debated whether anonymity is conducive to creative performance or not, which resulted in two different dominant designs in brainstorming (see discussion above): anonymous and non-anonymous. Using two control groups achieves two things: First, the experiment will answer whether the treatment related to the new proposed form of brainstorming yields better results than both traditional forms. Second, this design enables me to understand whether the proposed theory of change holds, i.e. if the proposed form of brainstorming performs best since it alleviates the drawbacks associated with each traditional method without reducing their benefits (see discussion above).

Participants: Description of who is eligible and how they will be identified and recruited; description of exclusion criteria for participants if applicable.
Randomization Method
Randomization by randomizer in survey tool

Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
225 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
225 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials