Jul 10, 2010

Experience with different cultures may boost creativity

June 30, 2010
Courtesy of SAGE Publications
and World Science staff
Cre­ati­vity can be en­hanced by ex­pe­ri­encing cul­tures dif­fer­ent from one’s own, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

Py­chol­o­gists stud­ied stu­dents who had lived abroad and those who had­n’t, test­ing them on as­pects of cre­ati­vity. Com­pared to a group that had­n’t ex­pe­ri­enced a dif­fer­ent cul­ture, par­ti­ci­pants in the dif­fer­ent cul­ture group pro­vid­ed more ev­i­dence of cre­ati­vity in var­i­ous stand­ard tests of the trait, re­search­ers said.

The re­sults sug­gest mul­ti­cul­tur­al learn­ing is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of the adapta­t­ion pro­cess, act­ing as a cre­ati­vity cat­a­lyst, ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The re­search­ers said the key to the en­hanced cre­ati­vity was re­lat­ed to the stu­dents’ open-mind­ed ap­proach in adapting to the new cul­ture. In a glob­al world, where more peo­ple are able to ac­quire mul­ti­cul­tur­al ex­pe­ri­ences than ev­er, the re­search, they said, in­di­cates liv­ing abroad can be even more ben­e­fi­cial than pre­vi­ously thought.

The findings, by re­search­ers with IN­SEAD, a busi­ness school with cam­pus­es in Sin­ga­pore, Abu Dhabi and Fon­taine­bleau, France, and with North­west­ern Uni­vers­ity in Il­li­nois, is pub­lished in the jour­nal Per­son­al­ity and So­cial Psy­chol­o­gy Bul­le­tin.

“Given the lit­er­a­ture on struc­tur­al changes in the brain that oc­cur dur­ing in­ten­sive learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, it would be worth­while to ex­plore wheth­er neu­ro­lo­g­i­cal changes oc­cur with­in the cre­ative pro­cess dur­ing in­ten­sive for­eign cul­ture ex­pe­ri­ences,” wrote the au­thors. “That can help paint a more nu­anced pic­ture of how for­eign cul­ture ex­pe­ri­ences may not only en­hance cre­ati­vity but al­so, per­haps lit­er­al­ly, as well as fig­ur­a­tive­, broad­en the mind.”

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