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Exploring the Creative Process in Humans and Large Language Models: Insights from Automated Analysis of Semantic Exploration

Core Concepts
Humans and large language models (LLMs) exhibit distinct patterns of semantic exploration when generating creative ideas, with humans demonstrating both persistent and flexible pathways, while LLMs tend to be biased towards either approach. The relationship between these exploration patterns and creativity also differs, where more flexible LLMs score higher on originality.
The paper introduces an automated, data-driven method to characterize the creative process in humans and large language models (LLMs) by analyzing their semantic exploration patterns. The method uses sentence embeddings to categorize responses and compute semantic similarities, which are then used to generate "jump profiles" that signal transitions between semantic spaces. The authors find that human participants exhibit both persistent (deep search within few semantic spaces) and flexible (broad search across multiple semantic spaces) pathways to creativity, with both leading to similar creativity scores. In contrast, LLMs are biased towards either persistent or flexible paths, which varies across tasks. While LLMs as a population match the variability in human response sequences on the Alternate Uses Task (AUT), their relationship with creativity is different - the more flexible LLMs score higher on originality. The paper also discusses the reliability and validity of the proposed method, as well as its implications for using LLMs as artificial participants in cognitive science research and for human-AI co-creativity.
Humans generated an average of N=18 responses on the AUT and VFT tasks. The mean word length M of human responses was 3-4 words.
"LLMs were found to be biased towards either persistent or flexible paths, that varied across tasks." "Unlike humans, the relationship between LLMs' exploration patterns and creativity differs, where the more flexible models score higher on creativity."

Deeper Inquiries

How can the insights from this study be used to develop hybrid human-AI creative processes that leverage the complementary strengths of human and machine creativity?

The insights from this study provide a foundation for developing hybrid human-AI creative processes that capitalize on the strengths of both entities. By understanding the different pathways to creativity exhibited by humans and Large Language Models (LLMs), we can design collaborative frameworks where humans and machines work together synergistically. One approach could involve creating interactive platforms where humans and LLMs can co-generate ideas. Humans, with their ability for nuanced understanding, emotional intelligence, and contextual awareness, can provide the depth and breadth of knowledge that LLMs may lack. On the other hand, LLMs excel in processing vast amounts of data, generating diverse possibilities, and offering novel perspectives. By combining these strengths, hybrid systems can produce more innovative and well-rounded creative outputs. Moreover, the findings suggest that different LLM models exhibit biases towards persistence or flexibility in their creative pathways. Understanding these biases can help in selecting the right model for specific tasks or collaborating with a mix of models to cover a broader spectrum of creative approaches. By leveraging the variability in LLM behaviors, hybrid systems can adapt to different creative challenges and enhance the overall creative process.

How might the findings from this study inform the design of LLMs and other AI systems to better support and augment human creativity across different domains?

The findings from this study offer valuable insights that can guide the design of LLMs and other AI systems to enhance their support for human creativity across various domains. Here are some ways in which these findings can inform the development of AI systems: Flexibility in Response Generation: Understanding the importance of flexibility in generating creative ideas, AI systems can be trained to explore a wider range of semantic spaces and make diverse connections between concepts. By promoting flexibility in response generation, AI systems can offer more innovative and unconventional solutions to creative tasks. Adaptive Behavior: The study highlights the variability in LLM behaviors across tasks and the influence of model flexibility on creativity scores. AI systems can be designed to adapt their creative pathways based on the task requirements, switching between persistent and flexible approaches as needed. This adaptive behavior can enhance the overall creative output of AI systems. Collaborative Creativity: The findings emphasize the benefits of combining human and machine creativity. AI systems can be developed with features that facilitate collaborative creativity, such as real-time feedback mechanisms, interactive interfaces, and adaptive learning algorithms. By fostering collaboration between humans and AI, these systems can amplify creative potential and generate novel ideas across different domains. Incorporating these insights into the design of LLMs and AI systems can lead to more effective support for human creativity, enabling innovative solutions in diverse fields such as art, design, problem-solving, and decision-making.

What other cognitive or behavioral measures, beyond semantic exploration patterns, could be used to further characterize and compare the creative processes of humans and LLMs?

In addition to semantic exploration patterns, several other cognitive and behavioral measures can be employed to deepen the characterization and comparison of the creative processes of humans and LLMs. Some of these measures include: Divergent Thinking Abilities: Assessing the ability of individuals, both humans and LLMs, to generate a wide range of diverse ideas in response to a stimulus. Divergent thinking tests can provide insights into the fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration of creative ideas. Problem-Solving Strategies: Analyzing the problem-solving approaches adopted by humans and LLMs during creative tasks. Understanding how individuals navigate obstacles, overcome challenges, and explore alternative solutions can shed light on their creative processes. Emotional Intelligence: Evaluating the emotional awareness, empathy, and social skills exhibited by individuals in the context of creativity. Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in creative collaboration, idea generation, and understanding the impact of creative outputs. Metacognitive Abilities: Examining the metacognitive skills of individuals, including their self-awareness, self-regulation, and monitoring of cognitive processes. Metacognition influences creative thinking by guiding individuals in planning, evaluating, and revising their ideas. Neurological Markers: Utilizing neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI or EEG to study the neural correlates of creativity in humans and LLMs. By identifying brain regions and neural networks involved in creative tasks, researchers can gain insights into the underlying cognitive mechanisms. By integrating these additional cognitive and behavioral measures into the study of human and LLM creativity, researchers can obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of creative processes and the differences between human and artificial creativity.