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)
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