5 creativity facts – backed by science

Sometimes, creativity can be hard to pin down. Some creative people may not feel they can explain it well. Others don’t think they’re creative at all. Are you curious about how creativity works? I was too, so I did some investigating. Here are five facts about creativity, backed by research.

Click on the infographic to view it larger, or scroll down to read the five creativity facts! Let me know what you think, or if you have any you’d like to share.

5 creativity facts - samantha garner


1) Stepping away from a project can boost your creativity

Increasing psychological distance can help things become more abstract, and this way of thinking is key to the creative process.

2) Exercise can help creativity

Research shows that creative potential can increase up to two hours after moderate aerobic exercise.

3) Memory is linked to divergent thinking

Studies in episodic specificity induction – brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience – shows that recalling past events and details enhances divergent creative thinking.

4) Letting your mind wander enhances creative problem solving

A 2012 study suggests that “engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.”

5) Solitude may make you more creative

According to a 2017 study, “Anxiety-free time spent in solitude may allow for, and foster, creative thinking and work.”

1) L. Jia, E. Hirt, S. Karpen, (2009) Lessons from a Faraway Land: The Effect of Spatial Distance on Creative Cognition, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
2) D. Blanchette, S.P. Ramocki, J.N. O’del, M.S. Casey (2005) Aerobic Exercise and Creative Potential: Immediate and Residual Effects, Creativity Research Journal
3) K.P. Madore, D.R. Addis, D.L. Schacter (2015) Creativity and Memory: Effects of an Episodic-Specificity Induction on Divergent Thinking, Psychological Science
4) B. Baird, J. Smallwood, M.D. Mrazek, J.W.Y. Kam, M.S. Franklin, J.W. Schooler (2012), Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation, Psychological Science
5) J.C. Bowkera, M.T. Stotsky, R.G.Etki (2017), How BIS/BAS and psycho-behavioral variables distinguish between social withdrawal subtypes during emerging adulthood, Personality and Individual Differences
6) Tom Jacobs, “Can Solitude Make You More Creative?,” Greater Good Magazine, accessed September 16, 2020

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