EXPERIMENTS - IBM

Apr 27 – May 3

Brief: Design a way to counter some of the alienating effects of remote working online.
My group: Melanie, Nayla, Lea

This week was dedicated to sound experiments. First we looked into various research in order to get familiar with different methods to test how sound affects our creativity, imagination and memory. To better understand all the effects, we conducted four experiments with different emphases.

Collaboration via Zoom

The first experiment revolved around the importance of interactions in communication media. We started a Zoom call between two people and in the first 5 minutes they used both video and sound, then we disabled the video for 5 minutes, and for the last 5 minutes we disabled the audio and enabled the video. Afterwards we asked them about the preferred method of communication. They listed the audio and video combined as the best option, followed by only the audio and lastly only the video, although these findings only confirmed the assumptions about the importance of the audio.  

The second experiment focused on the effects of using doodling as a way to activate brain’s “unfocused” circuits and allow people to more creatively and tirelessly solve a problem at hand. We asked the participants to listen to a podcast, first without and then with doodling. At the end we questioned them about different parts of the podcast with the aim of determining if people would remember more information while doodling. The results showed that while concentrating on someone’s talking, the act of doodling indeed allows us to better focus on the information that enters our auditory system, leading to better memorisation of information.

Doodles done during listening to the podcast.

The idea behind the third experiment was to determine whether different sounds can help induce more creative and divergent thinking. The participants did the Guilford’s Test of Divergent Thinking, where one must find as many affordances for the objects as they can in the limited period of time by listening to different sounds (no sound, white sound, 2D sound, 3D sound and 3D beats). It was clear from the results that the best creative thinking was done while listening to the 3D beats, as they can be effective in enhancing brainstorm-like creative thinking in individuals, according to certain studies. The second best results were achieved with white noise (it has been proven that in the right decibel range one can be slightly more creative), followed by the results with no sound and 2D sound. The worst creative thinking came from listening to 3D sound, which had otherwise been proven to boost imagination. It is our belief that due to the task given, the sound was too distracting for the participants to focus. We did discover that sound holds an important role in creative and divergent thinking, but it has to be chosen carefully and appropriate to the task. The problem with this test was that there are numerus ways to test creativity as is it a very broad concept, and that in order to truly test that, we would need various experiments.

The last experiment focused on drawing while listening to three different sounds, where we wanted to understand how the sound evokes our memories and imagination. We discovered that sound plays an important role in inducing various emotions. To fully grasp the influence of the sound we would need to look deeper and conduct more experiments. However, I did believe that this had demonstrated just how important sound is and that it could be an interesting direction for our group.

Doodles done while listening to various sounds.

The feedback revolved mostly around the presentation of the results. By trying to present our findings in a concise way, using charts for emotions, we skipped some important parts of the experiments. I thought that we could definitely improve our presentation and this made me realise how important it is to be concise about the right things.

References

Dehaene, S. (2003) The neural basis of the Weber–Fechner law: a logarithmic mental number line. Trends in cognitive sciences, 7(4), pp.145-147.

Emfield, A. G. and Neider, M. B. (2014). Evaluating visual and auditory contributions to the cognitive restoration effect. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 548.

Firth, J., Torous, J. Stubbs, B. Firth, J. A., Steiner, G. V., Smith, L., Alvarez-Jimenez, M. Gleeson, J. Vancampfort, D., Armitage, C. J. and Sarris, J. (2019). The ‘online brain’: how the Internet may be changing our cognition. World Psychiatry, 18(2), 119-129.

Mehta, R., Zhu, R. and Cheema, A. (2012) Is noise always bad? Exploring the effects of ambient noise on creative cognition. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(4), 784-799.

Montuori, A., and Purser, R. E. (1995). Deconstructing the lone genius myth: Toward a contextual view of creativity. Journal of Humanistic psychology, 35(3), 69-112.

Pillay, M., (2020). The “Thinking” Benefits Of Doodling – Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-thinking-benefits-of-doodling-2016121510844. (Accessed: 2 May 2020).