Creativity

One of the greatest of all human abilities is its capacity for creative innovation.  The lab has examined creativity from a number of different perspectives.  In a recent study, we have examined the relationship between creativity and mind wandering  (Baird, Smallwood, Mrazek, Franklin, & Schooler, 2012). In this study, participants attempted to come up with alternative uses for common objects (a standard measure of creativity) and then, following various intervening tasks, attempted to generate yet more uses.  We found that an activity that encourages mind-wandering, (i.e. a non-demanding task) led to more creative solutions on the second attempt than situations that did not allow for mind-wandering (i.e. no incubation interval or engaging in a demanding task).  Strikingly, engaging in a non-demanding task was even better than doing nothing at all with respect to the benefit of the incubation period.  Collectively these findings suggest that mind-wandering during non-demanding tasks may be a particularly fertile source of creative inspiration.

The relationship between mindfulness, mind wandering and creativity was further investigated in one of the labs most recent studies (Zedelius & Schooler, 2015). This study revealed that different styles of creative problem solving are facilitated by different modes of thinking. Mindfulness was related to analytic strategies for problem solving while mind wandering may result in greater creative problems solved through insight, or through a sudden “Aha!” moment.

Other areas of research on creativity have included: the impact of thinking out loud on disrupting creative insights (Schooler, Ohlson and Brooks, 1993; Schooler & Melcher, 1995); individual differences in creativity (Schooler & Melcher, 1995), the role of the right hemisphere in creative processes (Fiore & Schooler,  1997), and the relationship between insight processes and perception (Schooler & Melcher, 1995; Schooler,  Fallshore, & Fiore 1994)

News

Selected Publications

Researchers

Jonathan Schooler

My lab’s research takes a “big picture” perspective in attempting to understand the nature of mental life, and in particular consciousness. Combining empirical, philosophical, and contemplative traditions, we address broad questions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Claire Zedelius

One line of Claire's research focuses on the role meta-awareness plays in the dynamic changes between states of mind wandering and focused attention. Another line examines the relationship between mind wandering and creativity.

Jennifer Dorfman

Jennifer is a cognitive psychologist with interests in memory and creativity, particularly as they intersect with language.  Her research at UCSB has two foci: the benefits of mind wandering for creativity and creative writing; and Zeigarnik-type effects in creative problem solving.

 

Research Collaborators

Psychology