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Friday, May 22, 2009

Off Broadway: Creative Fuel


Today, as I sit among boxes, I stumbled upon this excerpt from the Economist.

Anecdotal evidence has long held that creativity in artists and writers can be associated with living in foreign parts. Rudyard Kipling, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Gauguin, Samuel Beckett and others spent years dwelling abroad. Now a pair of psychologists has proved that there is indeed a link.

As they report in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, William Maddux of INSEAD, a business school in Fontainebleau, France, and Adam Galinsky, of the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago, presented 155 American business students and 55 foreign ones studying in America with a test used by psychologists as a measure of creativity. Given a candle, some matches and a box of drawing pins, the students were asked to attach the candle to a cardboard wall so that no wax would drip on the floor when the candle was lit. (The solution is to use the box as a candleholder and fix it to the wall with the pins.) They found 60% of students who were either living abroad or had spent some time doing so, solved the problem, whereas only 42% of those who had not lived abroad did so.

Taryn and I generally take a "no regrets, you can't change the past" posture. However, we do believe in taking time to reflect on our past so that we can better create our future. We have reflected greatly on whether this move to NYC was worth it.

While the above quote is talking about living outside of the United States I think it captures some of what has made our time in NYC "worth it". Encountering "foreign parts" (people, cultures, religions, language, etc) has been the groundwork for interpersonal, artistic, and scholarly creativity. New environments help create new behaviors. New behaviors that we are quite thankful for.

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