Scientific American has just added more to the debate about expats and creativity. An article published on July 21 indicates that psychological distance makes us more creative. According to the article, An Easy Way to Increase Creativity, psychological distance affects how we represent things mentally. The distance can be geographic or temporal.
Psychologically distant things become more abstract, and close things become more concrete. The more abstractly we view a subject, the easier it is to form connections between concepts which seem unrelated – creativity.
“This pair of studies suggests that even minimal cues of psychological distance can make us more creative. Although the geographical origin of the various tasks was completely irrelevant – it shouldn’t have mattered where the questions came from – simply telling subjects that they came from somewhere far away led to more creative thoughts.”
The authors conclude that traveling to far-away places, or even just thinking about such places, increases creativity. However, this conclusion conflicts with the Fast Company study. While both indicate a correlation between expatriation and creativity, further research is needed.
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