This thesis presents the results of an exploratory comparative study investigating the potential effects of bimanual interaction on creativity. Recent research from cognitive psychology and neuroscience suggests that body movement influences divergent thinking performance in previously unexpected ways. Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple valid responses to a situation, and is an important part of creative behaviour. To examine the impact of the body movements afforded by multitouch displays on divergent thinking, study participants interacted with a computerized version of the Alternate Uses Task, a divergent thinking measurement test. Participants were assigned to one of three different interface styles: mouse, unimanual multitouch, and bimanual multitouch. In order to evaluate differences in creative performance between the interface styles, participant responses from the AUT were scored along several subscales, transforming qualitative AUT response data into quantitative data suitable for statistical analysis. While no strong interface style effects on divergent thinking were found, important findings about language ability and representational modality were identified. The summary of this analysis and implications for the design of creativity-support systems are discussed herein. The main contribution of this study is that it is the first empirical comparison of multitouch interaction and traditional mouse-based interaction focusing on creative performance. A second contribution is a unique combination of current research and methodological approaches from psychology, neuroscience and HCI. A third contribution is the development of a computerized version of the Alternate Uses Task, capable of being run on diverse interaction platforms.
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Thesis advisor: Antle, Alissa
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