Collaboration

The last factor we discuss is also not specific to creativity, but general to success: the role of collaboration. Two-thirds of the nearly 300 Nobel Prize laureates named between 1901 and 1972 received the prize for work done collaboratively, and scientists who did not win were less likely to have collaborated (Zuckerman, 1967, 1977). In addition, the number of authors on an article predicts its number of citations (Nemeth & Goncalo, 2005).

Of course, what makes collaboration effective is probably the specific choice of collaborator: someone who is similar but different enough in personality and expertise, someone who will not hesitate to challenge you and ask you to justify your ideas and opinions (Shenk, 2014). Thus, collaboration may enhance creativity by providing diversity (as earlier). In addition, collaboration may be particularly useful when it comes to evaluating the sense of audience and usefulness of an idea. Most creators do not work alone, instead, they consult and discuss their ideas with others. These others help them refine and fully understand the germ of the insight. A fine example of this process was the intense collaboration between Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky (Kahneman, 2011). For years the two researchers spent hours each day talking about anything and everything, enjoying each other's company, and devising ways to test their theories.

Aging and collaboration. How does collaboration fare with age? Older adults may use collaboration as a way to compensate for general cognitive decline by recruiting another's abilities (Dixon, 2000). In addition, maturation probably helps us be better able to pick the right collaborators—people who share a similar vision, yet offer different perspectives. We may also have a larger network of potential collaborators to choose from, and we may be better equipped to ride through difficulties in the process.

 
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