To 'think outside the box', think outside the box

January 19, 2012, Association for Psychological Science

(Medical Xpress) -- Want to think outside the box? Try actually thinking outside of a box. In a study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers had students think up solutions to problems while acting out various metaphors about creative thinking and found that the instructions actually worked.

The authors of the new paper were inspired by research that has found that many of the metaphors we use actually “work”—people who hold something warm think a stranger they meet has a warmer personality; making a fist makes men more assertive. Angela Leung of Singapore Management University and her coauthors from the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and others wondered if the same was true of metaphors about creativity. “Creativity is a highly sought-after skill,” they write. “Metaphors of creative abound in everyday use.”

People talk about thinking “outside the box” or consider problems “on the one hand, then on the other hand.” So Leung and her colleagues created experiments where people acted out these metaphors. In one experiment, each participant was seated either inside or outside of a five-by-five-foot cardboard box. The two environments were set up to be otherwise the same in every way, and people didn’t feel claustrophobic in the box. Participants were told it was a study on different work environments. Each person completed a test widely used to test creativity; those who were outside did the test better than people who were inside the box.

In another experiment, some participants were asked to join the halves of cut-up coasters before taking a test—a physical representation of “putting two and two together.” People who acted out the metaphor displayed more convergent thinking, a component of creativity that requires bringing together many possible answers to settle on one that will work. Other experiments found that walking freely generated more original ideas than walking in a set line; another found truth in “on the hand; on the other hand.”

All this suggests that there’s something to the metaphors we use to talk about . “Having a leisurely walk outdoors or freely pacing around may help us break our mindset,” says Leung. “Also, we may consider getting away from Dilbert’s cubicles and creating open office spaces to free up our minds.”

Explore further: Is there a hidden bias against creativity?

More information: www.psychologicalscience.org/i … sychological_science

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ziphead
not rated yet Jan 19, 2012
There are those that can think outside the box, and they typically cannot control the process.

And then there is majority of those that cannot, no matter what object or metaphor they hang onto.

This of course makes sense; somebody has to serve burgers, clean floors, and deliver dull managerial speeches.
rawa1
not rated yet Jan 20, 2012
Want to think outside the box? Try actually thinking outside of a box.
It just considers, you shouldn't use the concepts and methodology from inside of the box. Many free thinkers are doing the apparent mistake, when they're mixing their own original ideas and concepts with those of classical models. You should postulate your own logical system, which is independent to these theories and include these theories into it from outside. It just requires certain separation and detachment from reality for being able to describe it in more objective way. You cannot observe the water surface objectively, when you're attached on it and forced to observe everything with its own ripples. You should apply the hyper dimensional perspective mediated with faster waves for being able to realize/describe, how different observational perspectives at the water surface are related each other.

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