ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (11): 1734-1747.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01734

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Effects of Similarity and Accuracy Indices of Shared Mental Models on Team Creativity

LIN Xiaomin1,2; BAI Xinwen1; LIN Lin3   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China) (2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China) (3 School of Business, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China)
  • Received:2013-11-06 Published:2014-11-25 Online:2014-11-25
  • Contact: 白新文, E-mail:


Modern organizations are increasingly turning to teams for creative work and innovation. Most research studying team creativity has been concentrating on the effects of team interaction behaviors on team creativity. Although team creativity is known as the result of team-level cognitive processes through which information is searched, shared and integrated among team members, little has been done to reveal the cognitive mechanism underlying team creativity. The research of team cognition provides with a novel perspective to understand how teams produce creative ideas and products. Shared mental models (SMMs) is one of the important forms of the team cognition. The current study aimed to examine the effects of two indices of SMMs, mental model similarity and accuracy, respectively, on team creativity. Similarity and accuracy were expected to contribute uniquely, as well as interact, to predict team creativity. Data were obtained form 80 teams in a large high technology corporation in China whose responsibilities were to take charge of the operation, monitoring, maintenance of the online transaction network platform. Individual mental models were elicited by asking participants to make paired comparisons the relevance of each pair of the 10 fault statements. Mental model similarity was indexed by calculating the mean value of Quadratic Assignment Procedure correlation (QAP) within each pair’s responses to the 10 fault statements within each team. Similarly, mental model accuracy was indexed by calculating the mean value of QAP between each team member and subject matter experts within each team. Team creativity was obtained from team performance review archival data. Results indicated that: a) Similarity was significant negatively related to team creativity (b = -0.76, p < 0.01), while accuracy was positively related to team creativity (b = 0.55, p = 0.054). Furthermore, similarity and accuracy interacted to influence team creativity (b = -0.20, p = 0.060). Further analysis showed that, when accuracy was high, similarity was significantly related to team creativity (b = -0.91, p <.01). While accuracy was low, the effect of similarity on team creativity was not significant (b = -0.50, ns). Specifically, while teams with high mental model accuracy but low similarity were at the best position to demonstrate creativity, those with low accuracy and high similarity were rated as the least creative. In contract to prior team performance research, our findings suggested that mental model similarity was negatively related to team creativity which have received little attention among the relationship between similarity and team effectiveness. Furthermore, we also found that the effect was contingent on accuracy such that similarity had a stronger inhibition effect on team creativity when accuracy was high. Results were discussed in terms of the theoretical implications for both team creativity and SMMs literature.

Key words: team creativity, team cognition, shared mental models, mental model similarity, mental model accuracy