Research Design Connection: Supporting Creative Thinking

Breslin studied links between types of work breaks and creativity. What he learned can be applied by designers as they work, for example, as they brainstorm). Breslin’s findings can also inform the development of spaces that support creative thinking. Breslin “investigates the effect of off-task breaks, where individuals engage in a collective off-task activity, on group creativity.” He found that, “When compared to the no‐break case, it is seen that off‐task breaks, in which all individuals participate in the group activity, lead to more original ideas being generated post‐break. On the other hand, individual incubation breaks and self‐organizing group breaks, lead to lower levels of post‐break idea originality when compared with the no‐break case. This research thus highlights the positive benefits of off‐task breaks involving full member participation, on the creative process in groups.”

Dermot Breslin. “Off-Task Social Breaks and Group Creativity.” The Journal of Creative Behavior, in press,

Sally Augustin, PhD,a cognitive scientist, is the editor of Research Design Connections (, a monthly subscription newsletter and free daily blog, where recent and classic research in the social, design, and physical sciences that can inform designers’ work are presented in straightforward language. Readers learn about the latest research findings immediately, before they’re available elsewhere. Sally, who is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, is also the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009) and, with Cindy Coleman, The Designer’s Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design (Wiley, 2012). She is a principal at Design With Science ( and can be reached at