How can I be more creative? New experiences make more flexible

How can I be more creative? New experiences make more flexible

It is a cold, Sunny February afternoon, I’m in a lab room at the University of Nijmegen, it can start. The computer programmers Jeroen Derks has me placed just its 30,000-Euro-video glasses on the head. With the eyes I am already in another world. A world was created, my too entrenched, rigid thought structures loosen up.

“Are you ready?” a woman asks a voice. It belongs to Simone knight. She has devised for the Experiment, I’m going to participate. The 33-Year-old is a Junior Professor at the University of Nijmegen. Her research mission is to find out how we humans come up with new ideas. What is the secret of creativity is? Especially: the creative process of foreign students.

Derks has provided me with a push of a button in a computer simulation of the Uni Cafeteria. I wander around to see me. On the left is a long wooden table with beer benches, in the Background, the bar counter with an espresso machine, to the right vending machine next to a snack. I’m trying to order me a virtual Cappuccino, because I see on the long wooden table, a suitcase, I want to look at in more detail. Strangely enough, the suitcase, the more I get closer to it, the smaller it is. As I would like to get close to me and the briefcase with a snap, he disappears. “Oops,” I say disappointed.

The bottle rises in the air like a balloon

Next, a red toy car appears bottle on the wooden table, and on the edge of the table, a green 7up -. Once again, I’m going to the table, and then the car drove to the bottle and knock. I jump to the bottle, don’t want you to catch the bottle falls to the ground, but rises into the air like a balloon, and eventually reaches the ceiling, where it stuck. I stare at the floating bottle. What is this?

“Well, how do you feel?”, Simone asks the knight.

How I feel? As in a dream? Like Alice in Wonderland? The reality is absurd and the Absurd eerily real to become confused about the sense of reality, such as an earthquake, a sense of balance. I take the glasses from the head. Knight looks at me with enthusiasm, as if she had a demonstration of their Experiment for the first Time. “Would you be a real test person, it would be now is the crucial part,” she says.

Knight already has dozens of test subjects in the virtual canteen wander. A group explored a canteen version, in the everything was very normal. A others have experienced, as I, the Alice-in-Wonderland-Version. The idea behind is: Who is repeatedly faced with situations that are clearly in breach of the expectations of the brain, its structures of thought (jargon: “schemes”) are systematically loosened up. The brain is forced to think in a new way, to make sense of the unusual experiences.

If the theory is true, then, would have to know the test, the subjects of the absurd Cafeteria, and a creative boost. To check this, put the knights of the participants to the Cafeteria trip a little ideas-Test, and the question: What makes a noise? The task was to deliver within two minutes as many answers as possible.

The brain with Unusual confront

It came as knight had suspected: The participants from the bizarre Cafeteria fared clearly better. Their ideas were not a few of the categories are limited (such as a car, a train or a plane, which come from the category of means of transport), but were more diverse. The test persons were also to the fact that the sounds of insects can make a clock, running water or pots that repel against each other. “The Thinking of the subjects from the unusual Cafeteria went in different directions, it had become more flexible,” says knight. The experience of “schema violation” had sparked their imagination.

In recent years, Cognitive scientists have taken the creative process more accurately than ever under the magnifying glass. A realization occurs always obvious emerged: Contrary to the cliché creativity is by no means a property that is limited eyeglasses to artists, geniuses and Designer with thick horn. Everyone has them, you have to, you know, however, elicit – for example, by confronting the brain with the Unusual.

A practical example of this would a trip abroad. If you want, could you characterize a foreign country with foreign customs as a kind of bizarre giant canteen: Who goes there, it is repeatedly confronted with unusual, schema shocking experiences with favorable effects on creative Thinking.

Several studies in the past years to substantiate this assumption. In fact, a prolonged stay abroad is like a veritable creativity intensive course. The inspiring effect extends even in situations that do not at first glance, the Lowest with a multi-cultural experience. How about the candle problem.

The candle problem sounds simple: in Front of you a candle, a match, pencil case, as well as a box of tacks are. Your task is to attach the candle to a wall, without, when you light the candle wax to drip onto the floor would.

A considerable part of the test persons after minutes long Thought, frustrated. The solution seems to be, as is so often the simple, once you know it.

The idea of the open box with the tacks into a candle holder, depending on the study, between 25 and 50 percent of the subjects.

International experience makes Thinking more flexible

And what does that have to do with a stay abroad to? As it turns out, it is possible to predict who will crack the candle problem and who is not. To do this, you need to know how long someone abroad has lived. How a research team at the Insead Business School in France, and Northwestern University in the US found out, there is a growing Chance the solution to the candle problem with the number of months, has studied a Person or worked abroad: the larger the dose abroad experience someone has, the more flexible Thinking.

The confrontation with the Unfamiliar works fine on our Brain. An environment in which our assumptions and habits are questioned and shaken, stimulates Thinking. In this case, the for us humans, the most important environment is undoubtedly the social. And also because the research results in a similar direction: Who surrounds himself with people who will expand your own thinking patterns and to refute, the imagination is unleashed.

Some valuable insights to come from the sociologist Ronald Burt, University of Chicago. Burt had been hired by the US electronics company Raytheon to be with the inclusion of new companies to help. Raytheon is a company with more than 60,000 employees and makes year on year double-digit sales in the Billions.

Burt presented 673 Raytheon managers, the question of how to improve the processes in your work area. Hundreds of proposals were collected. Then, the scientists had two Top managers of all of the ideas in the grade, where not all the employees got away equally well (unwirscher comment from one of the two Top managers: “the ideas were too provincial, unintelligible, vague, or too whiny, I do not have a rating”).

The fear of the Unknown overcome

Like Burt found out, was the range of social contacts as a crucial inspiration formula. Many of the managers have limited their exchange to your group, your Department. But there were also staff with other departments in close contact. They usually had the best ideas.

The crux of the matter is that we can’t love something as much as people from our own Department. Like attracts like. As pleasant as that may be for our Ego – our ingenuity seems to have this love of the Familiar in the way. In order to bring our imagination on its toes, we should instead try our notorious fear of the Unknown good or to overcome evil again and again.

The Text is an abridged excerpt from the book “And suddenly it clicked! The craft of creativity or how the good ideas in your head come” by Bas Kast

Go to our cases Get a free quote