The Eight Ladies spend a fair amount of time talking about creativity—having it, losing it, stimulating it, harnessing it. I, for one, am often concerned that I have so few ideas. I get one at a time. And that’s it. I have to beat it to death, because who knows when I’ll get the next one? I’ve heard people say, “I have so many ideas, I don’t know when I’ll find the time to write all the books bouncing around in my head!” Yeah, that’s not me.
So I’m open to any ideas for how to stimulate creativity. The more, the better.
Recent research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that the more you know about yourself, the more creative you are. (Needless to say, this concept has me more than a little worried, since I thought I knew myself fairly well.)
The study concludes that thinking about your multiple identities—spouse, parent, employee, sports fan, political partisan, whatever—can lead to more creative insights.
“A more versatile, integrated, or flexible self-view … may offer a simple way to boost creativity,” writes a research team led by University of Chicago psychologist Sarah Gaither.
Participants first were given one of two assignments: to write one paragraph about their average day, or to write a paragraph about their identities, including social identities, gender, race, family identities, group identities, and how these identities overlapped or what they meant to that person. Participants were then tested for creativity, including word associations and—my favorite—making up new names for pasta. (Points were added for names that did not end with “i.”)
The participants who wrote about their identities scored higher on all creativity tests.
How will this information affect—and, I hope, improve—creativity? The researchers don’t know, but they’re optimistic: “[G]iven that everyone has multiple social identities,” they write, “the present findings suggest highly promising steps for increasing creativity in the general population by reframing views of the self.”
So the next time when I’m stuck, am I going to
waste spend any time thinking about my multiple social roles to boost my creativity? Heck, no. I’m running straight to the Eight Ladies. These researchers should be so lucky.