In this article, Paulus et al use three separate experiments to measure the effectiveness of facilitators, instructions, and breaks in the process of brainstorming. This research was conducted on both group brainstorming and nominal brainstorming, partially as an attempt to increase the effectiveness of group brainstorming creativity, which studies have shown to be less effective than nominal brainstorming. Experiment 1 was conducted in person, while experiments 2 and 3 measured the impact of additional rules for individuals who wrote or used a computer, respectively.
Experiment 1 measured the difference made by the presence of a facilitator (in group settings) and the introduction of additional brainstorming rules (to both groups and nominal participants). The main finding of this first experiment was that both individuals and groups who were given additional rules experienced an increase in their performance. Facilitators, on the other hand, did not influence group performance other than to limit the number of extraneous words used. The authors did note that further research would be necessary to determine if a more active facilitation style could lead groups to surpass nominal brainstorming in productivity.
Experiment 2 separated individuals into four groups: 1) a traditional group with no rules and no breaks; 2) a 36 minute brainstorming session with additional rules but no break; 3) a six-minute break after 15 minutes, and; 4) and two three-minute breaks after 10 and 23 minutes. As the experimenters predicted, the second and third group showed improvement over the first group during the brainstorming session. While the fourth group also had better production, they did not receive any additional benefit from the extra break.
Experiment 3 was broken into the same four categories, although the participants were brainstorming alone on a computer. The results of this experiment indicated that while the additional rules once again improved the brainstorming session, the breaks had no additional effect on electronic participants. Researches hypothesized that this was due to electronic brainstorm being both less fatiguing and also easier to keep track of (as the words are visible on screen at all times).