Monday, May 16, 2011

Selflessness and Creativity

Want to be more creative? Of course you do.

Uber-author Dan Pink shared a great story this week, highlighting a recent research report on the topic. Apparently we are more creative when we are solving problems for other people than for ourselves, according to a study conducted by  Evan Polman and Kyle J. Emich. Quoting from the synopsis:

"...In Study 1, participants carried out a structured imagination task by drawing an alien for a story that they would write, or alternatively for a story that someone else would write. As expected, drawing an alien for someone else produced a more creative alien. 
"In Studies 2a and 2b, construal level (i.e., psychological distance) was independently manipulated. Participants generated more creative ideas on behalf of distant others than on behalf of either close others or themselves. 
"In Study 3, a classic insight problem was investigated. Participants deciding for others were more likely to solve the problem; furthermore, this result was mediated by psychological distance. These findings demonstrate that people are more creative for others than for themselves and shed light on differences in self-other decision making." (see the report here.)

In rural areas we have fewer people to help us solve our problems, fewer people on whom to test ideas. That is not a problem, because now they've invented something called the internet. You can connect with peers globally, and solve each other's problems.

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