Experiencing different cultures enhances creativity

July, 2010

Being reminded of multicultural experiences helps you become more creative in solving problems.

Three experiments involving students who had lived abroad and those who hadn't found that those who had experienced a different culture demonstrated greater creativity — but only when they first recalled a multicultural learning experience from their life abroad. Specifically, doing so (a) improved idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), (b) increased awareness of underlying connections and associations, and (c) helped overcome functional fixedness. The study also demonstrated that it was learning about the underlying meaning or function of behaviors in the multicultural context that was particularly important for facilitating creativity.

Reference: 

[1622] Maddux WW, Adam H, Galinsky AD. When in Rome .. Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin [Internet]. 2010 :731 - 741. Available from: http://psp.sagepub.com/content/36/6/731.abstract

Full text is available free for a limited time at http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/36/6/731

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