Posted in biology

Want to be more creative? Live Abroad

I’m really getting into creativity lately, and what we as individuals can do to hinder or encourage it. Work came out recently that suggests living abroad improves creativity.

Now it’s settled. I’m moving to Fiji!

This article also has a podcast, so you can read or listen to this info.

From Scientific American:

For the recently graduated or retired—or those who have some unexpected free time thanks to the recession—consider the benefits of an extended trip abroad.

A study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found evidence that living abroad enhances creative thinking.

Researchers tested the creativity of business students. Students were given a candle, box of tacks and matches, and were told to construct a way to attach the candle to the wall, so that wax would not drip on the floor. And it turns out that the length of time spent living abroad is a significant predictor of coming up with the most creative solution.

But, it was only living abroad that rewarded students with increased creativity. Two weeks of hostel hopping don’t count.

And it’s not that creative people are more likely to live abroad. Access to different culture and novel ideas increases both new ways of problem solving, as well as the willingness to actually apply novel solutions. Such as emptying the box of tacks, hot waxing the candle to the box and then tacking the box to the wall.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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