ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Cross-Cultural Immersion to Boost Creativity

Posted by Plish on May 30, 2009

live-abroad

Read this thought provoking study about how people who have to move to, and live in a different country and experience a different culture become more creative.  It’s almost as if something clicks within them and they view the world, and problems they encounter, in a different, more creative way.

The study showed that it wasn’t just travelling abroad but living abroad that made the difference.  To me, this implies that it’s the forced nature of new experiences and the fact that new languages, new cultural aspects must be learned that helps trigger the increase in creativity.

Though in some ways it looks like the study might not be structured in the best way, nevertheless, I have the following observations and questions.

  1. Countries, like the USA, who have a large population of immigrants that come in and adjust and become part of the culture at large, should, in theory, have a great resource of ‘extra’-creative people.  In some ways, the growth of small business in the US brought about by folks who are following the “American Dream” could be proof of this.
  2. If immigrants don’t try and learn the language of the main country they live and learn its culture, will they get that creative boost? I would say probably not.
  3. Are children of the immigrants, who often learn both their parents’ and their birth country’s language and culture, getting the creative boost? I would say ‘yes’.
  4. What happens when people must live in multiple, markedly different countries? Do these people get a new boost in every country they live in?
  5. Can just learning a new language well and using it give the boost?  Again, I would say probably ‘yes.’

What do you think about this study?  Are there other ways that this creativity “boost” might be stimulated?

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5 Responses to “Cross-Cultural Immersion to Boost Creativity”

  1. nilsjohan said

    It is a bit vague. But it is as if they know that too.

    first comments on your comments:

    1. You’re right. And i think that studying those groups and their businesses progress would give a more accurate result. There we could study the empirical implications with much more accuracy than candles and boxes. And then, of course compare with other countries.
    2. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t say it is only depending on language it self. It is more of the mechanisms of adapting to new situations maybe?
    3. No idea
    4. Probably, if we deduce from the study.
    5. Maybe

    I think this study is incomplete and the conclusion of it might as well say that “creative people are more likely to immigrate”

  2. nilsjohan said

    Btw, forgot, not talking about the study itself I am sure that living in other cultures is inspirational and therefore nurturing for innovation.

  3. Plish said

    Great points, Nils.
    I came back form the Chicago Symphony today and I think that perhaps learning an instrument might also be a way to unlock additional creative juices. What do you think?

  4. nilsjohan said

    i think you’re right plish! Reading for example Mihaly concerning entropy in the brain I think that playing instruments and other flow activities are really “sorting out” a working brain 🙂 Also reading biographies of einstein he clearly addresses the influence of playing instrumets during hard work – and right in the middle of it bursting into insight of his mathematical problems!

    One hypothesis of my observation doing my own work is that unpredictable and difficult tasks like for example problem solving in creativity is much helped by doing predictable, “primitive” or deep learned tasks – like moving your body and/or playing instrumets. You know – just walking and thinking triggers new input and patternswitching in the brain.

  5. Plish said

    Nils, you said:
    “One hypothesis of my observation doing my own work is that unpredictable and difficult tasks like for example problem solving in creativity is much helped by doing predictable, “primitive” or deep learned tasks – like moving your body and/or playing instrumets. You know – just walking and thinking triggers new input and patternswitching in the brain.”

    Nils, I agree totally with this perspective. It’s like it creates a quiet area at the eye of the storm. 🙂

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