Previous studies demonstrate that people with less professional knowledge can achieve higher performance than those with more professional knowledge in creative activities. However, the factors related to this phenomenon remain unclear. Based on previous discussions in cognitive science, we hypothesised that people with different amounts of professional knowledge have varying attention deployment patterns, leading to different creative performances. To examine our hypothesis, we analysed two datasets collected from a web-based survey and a popular online shopping website, Amazon.com (United States). We found that during information processing, people with less professional knowledge tended to give their divided attention, which positively affected creative performances. Contrarily, people with more professional knowledge tended to give their concentrated attention, which had a negative effect. Our results shed light on the relation between the amount of professional knowledge and attention deployment patterns, thereby enabling a deeper understanding of the factors underlying the different creative performances of people with varying amounts of professional knowledge.
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