Monday, April 08, 2019

Taking a Break Stimulates Creativity: More Evidence

Source: Alfred Wordsworth Thompson (Wikimedia Commons)
In Unlocking Creativity, I write about how achieving some psychological distance from a problem can enhance our ability to develop creative solutions to perplexing problems. In its simplest form, we often think about the value of taking a break or going for a walk. Perhaps more interestingly, research shows that there are other ways to foster psychological distance, and thereby enhance creativity. One can role play, walk a mile in someone else's shoes, imagine a situation several months or years in the future, or leverage travel experiences as a means of enhancing psychological distance.

A recent study confirms the value of simply taking a break or going for a walk. The study demonstrates that creativity often benefits from an "incubation period." Steven Kachelmeier, Laura Wang, and Michael Williamson have written a paper titled, "Incentivizing the Creative Process: From Initial Quantity to Eventual Creativity." They examined the impact that incentives can have on the number of creative ideas that people generate. The scholars found that incentives did not generate a benefit initially, but incentives helped if people had an opportunity to take a break during the task. Kachelmeier told Science Daily, "You need to rest, take a break and detach yourself -- even if that detachment is just 20 minutes. The recipe for creativity is try -- and get frustrated because it's not going to happen. Relax, sit back, and then it happens."

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