It’s Not Just Genetics: Why Everyone Is Capable of Being Creative

Posted by Jon Hall on Apr 14, 2016

2_sides_of_brain.jpgIn our last blog, “Where Does Creativity Come From,” we examined how creative people were able to come up with new ideas, as well as the different factors that influence their idea generation. In a study to see how the brain functions when trying to think of new ideas, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the brain activity of freestyle rappers when trying to think of new lyrics on the spot. What they discovered was their brains’ ability to “deactivate” normally busy areas of the brain when trying to think of new lyrics, and instead focus its energy on other areas that assist with idea generation and creativity.

Of course, this inherent ability to be more creative “at the flick of a switch” is certainly an envious talent for many people, and many simply attribute it to having creative genetics—distancing themselves from the notion that they’re creative too. And while it’s fair to say that creative icons like Jimi Hendricks, Steve Jobs, and Nikola Tesla are all once-in-a-lifetime talents born with incredibly gifted minds; everyone has the natural capability to produce their own moments of creative brilliance. 

Debunking the Idea of Left vs. Right Brain

You’ve probably heard the notion that there are two different types of thinkers: left-brained and right-brained. Left-brained thinkers are said to be more logical and analytical, whereas right-brained thinkers are said to be more imaginative and creative. While this sounds like a great theory of how our left and right brain hemispheres work together, in reality, it’s just a myth driven by pop culture. Researchers from the University of Utah have used brain-imaging equipment to prove that people don’t use either side of their brain any more than the other. Although each side still performs certain functions (e.g., language on the left, attention on the right), people don’t have a dominant side in terms of influencing their creative or analytical abilities.

Unleashing Your Inner Creativity

In addition to dispelling the myth of brained-ness, new research from the University of Maryland shows treating yourself like a stereotypical creative genius can actually lead to more creative thinking. In a study of more than 200 college students from a variety of different majors, researchers primed students to imagine themselves as either a stereotypically creative professional (e.g., eccentric artist) or a stereotypically dull professional (e.g., accountant). The students then completed the Uses of Objects Task, a standard psychological test that measures the creative uses of different objects.

Upon concluding the study, researchers discovered that the ability to think outside the box isn’t actually a static personality trait, but rather one that can be influenced by different stereotypes and outside influences. Students who imagined themselves as being stereotypical creative professionals were able to think of more total uses, as well as more unique uses for objects like shovels, sandals, and forks, than the other students who pictured themselves in a dull profession. Not only did the creativity-inspired students see a boost to their creativity, however, but the students who pictured themselves in a “non-creative” profession also had their creativity hindered. In other words, if you’re consistently telling yourself that you’re not a creative person, then chances are you won’t be!

For companies who feel like they are stuck with conventional, “status-quo” thinking, our Transforum® online brainstorming platform makes it easy for your team to harness their inner creativity. With Transforum, users can log on at any time, from any place, to bounce ideas off each other. And just as importantly, they can log off and percolate on ideas, letting their minds wander and thinking about new ideas and connections before re-engaging on the site. What’s more, we augment your team’s expertise with members from our Transforum® Brain Trust of highly-experienced and knowledgeable thought leaders from a variety of industry backgrounds to add fresh, valuable feedback and ideas. At the end of this 3-day session, we’ll work closely with you to assess the best ideas and take steps towards turning those ideas into actual concepts.

To find out more about how our Transforum® online brainstorming sessions can help your company create the right environment for new and creative ideas, download our free case studies below or contact us today at 513.226.2212.

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