Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings

Advantage Cosmopolites: Living Abroad Expands Creative Perspective

Living in another country, a classic prescription for artists seeking to stimulate their imagination and hone their craft, may actually expand a person’s mental creativity, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Researchers found that university students in the United States, France and Singapore who have spent time abroad adapting to a new culture tested higher for creative insights. Even mentally recreating past experiences of living abroad by writing about them temporarily increased their creative capacity.

Apparently, “There is some sort of psychological transformation that needs to occur when people are living in a foreign country,” in order to enhance creative problem-solving, observes study co-author Adam Galinsky, Ph.D., of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

“Knowing that experiences abroad are critical for creative output makes study abroad programs and job assignments in other countries that much more important,” notes another co-author, William Maddux, Ph.D., an assistant professor with the INSEAD Business  School. “This is especially true for people and companies that put a premium on creativity and innovation to stay competitive.”

Join Our Community Newsletter