Should I lead or follow? Anthropomorphism and the relationship between assertive inquiry and creativity

Zoom Research Seminar / GF Forum

Past event — 11 January 2024

Spoken language

Profile image

Professor Giles Hirst


Research School of Management, College of Business & Economics, Australian National University, Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country

View profile


Generative AI tools are transforming creative problem solving at work and in society. The sheer speed and magnitude of this transformation has challenged researchers to understand how technology can best work with human users, rather than the other way around. A foundational question is whether humans or AI should take the lead or follow? Aiming to inform and advance this debate we examine whether human or AI pose questions actively and assertively most effectively facilitate the creative process. Using an experimental design, we identify the key role of language and in particular humans driving this. We find that when the human user communicates assertively this catalyses the creative process. In turn the more humans ascribe characteristics of agency and meaning making to AI, i.e. anthromorphize the more they unlock co-creative processes and select creative ideas.


Giles Hirst is a Professor of Leadership at the Research School of Management, The Australian National University and visiting Fellow Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. Developing creative ideas is one of mankind’s greatest gifts, so Giles’ main interest is helping individuals and leaders unlock their creativity. With a keen interest in building rewarding and inclusive workplaces his research spans creative industries, sciences, precarious work, refugees and socio-technological advances at work. Giles completed his PhD at the Melbourne Business School and is an awarding winning educator. He publishes in The Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Management, The Journal of Applied Psychology where he serves as consulting editor.


Profile image

Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty