Friday, May 17, 2013

Enacting Metaphors and Creativity

People are often encouraged to “think outside the box,” especially in corporations that are trying to increase profitability and/or turn an enterprise around. Creativity is a highly sought-after skill (although outside-the-box thinking actually terrifies some administrators who ask for ideas and then shoot them down almost as fast as they are presented—perhaps from fear of taking a calculated risk that has no guarantee of success). The “think outside the box” is, of course, a metaphor. And as with many metaphors, suggests a connection between creative cognition and concrete bodily experiences. (It reminds me of the many times my brother and I built creations from large cardboard boxes and played “inside the box”). A group of seven researchers led by Angela K. Leung of the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University developed five studies to explore the impact of enacting metaphors for creativity on outcomes of creative problem solving. For example, participants were provided with large boxes and then told to solve a specific problem “outside the box.” Literally. Results showed that embodiment of a metaphor can active cognitive processes in a way that promotes both convergent and divergent thinking and that facilitates the generation of new ideas and connections.

No comments: