“Think outside the box!” we often say when a problem solution eludes us. Suppose we were to take this metaphor literally and sat outside a large cardboard box while problem-solving. Would our solutions be more creative than sitting inside the box? Quite likely! according to a study (Leung et al.) recently published in Psychological Science and summarized by Jeremy Dean in his PsyBlog post “Five Effortless Postures that Foster Creative Thinking.” Creative solutions were also more likely to occur by wandering around randomly rather than walking in a square.
If you don’t have a large box handy or prefer not to leave your computer, go into Second Life and have your avatar wander around aimlessly. According to Dean, the study found that “those watching the freely wandering avatar came up with more unconventional ideas for gifts than those watching the square-walking avatar,” which, Dean adds, shows that it’s “the state of mind” that matters rather than physically sitting or wandering: “The mere suggestion that someone might adopt these postures was enough to cue a more creative state of mind.”