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Boosting Creativity

Top Eight Things that Boost Creativity

by Emma Offenberg

Promoting Positive Affect: Positive emotions help people develop and refine skills, as well as approach situations with a broader mindset. Doing things that encourage positive emotions, which are different for each person, can foster creativity by allowing people to come up with multiple solutions to problems and find new ways to approach them. (Eid & Larsen, 2008; Rego, Sousa, Marques, & Cunha, 2014)

Task Switching: Performing the same task for too long can make you hyper focused on a specific method of performing the task. If you find yourself stuck on a particular task, try switching to another and coming back to it with a fresh perspective. (Lu, Akinola, & Mason, 2017)

Encouraging Flow: Flow is often described as a state of intense concentration, where the person feels completely absorbed in what they are doing. Being in this state increase focus while still allowing the person to have an open mind and approach situations and problems from multiple perspectives, boosting one’s creativity. (Schutte & Malouff, 2019)

Being More Curious: Increased curiosity has been shown to increase creative states. Although some people are naturally more curious than others, anyone can engage in curious behavior. Exploring novel objects or experiences also helps encourage flow, which leads to more creative output. (Schutte & Malouff, 2019)

Working on Your Problem-Solving Skills: One study showed that fluid intelligence is a predictor for creativity. Fluid intelligence describes one’s ability to reason and solve new problems. The best way to improve fluid intelligence is to perform tasks that improve and shape working memory. There are several apps and programs that include puzzles and exercises which, if practiced consistently over a long course of time, can help improve one’s working memory. (Batey, Furnham, & Safiullina, 2010)

Thinking About the Future: Things that aren’t necessarily feasible now may be in the future. One way to encourage creativity is to focus on “future- or progress-oriented schemas,” which describe plans that would more likely to exist successfully in the future, rather than confining yourself to present-day-parameters. Thinking out of the box can allow you to find more creative solutions to problems or can help you come up with new and exciting things others in your field aren’t doing. (Koh & Leung, 2019)

Taking a Walk: Even a moderate amount of aerobic activity, such as taking a brisk walk, can increase creative thinking. Additionally, you’ll be able to enjoy lasting effects which will last for at least a couple hours. (Blanchette, Ramocki, O'del, & Casey, 2005)

Believing in Your Own Creative Genius: Multiple studies have found that people who self-report that they are creative have high rates of measurable creativity, while those that say they are not creative have lower rates. Here, it appears that having faith in your own creative skills can help get those creative juices flowing. (Batey, Furnham & Safiullina, 2010; McAleer, Bowler, Bowler, & Schoemann, 2019)

Emma Offenberg is a student in Stanford's school of Humanities and Sciences, studying Human Biology.


Batey, M., Furnham, A. & Safiullina, X. (2010). Intelligence, general knowledge and personality as predictors of creativity. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(5), pp. 532-535, 

Blanchette, D. M., Ramocki, S. P., O'del, J. N., & Casey, M. S. (2005). Aerobic Exercise and Creative Potential: Immediate and Residual Effects. Creativity Research Journal, 17(2-3), 257-264. 

Eid, M., & Larsen, R. J. (2008). The science of subjective well-being (pp. 1-16). New York: The Guilford Press.

Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J. & Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. PNAS, 105 (19), pp. 6829-6833, 

Koh,B. & K.-y.Leung, A. (2019). A time for creativity: How future-oriented schemas facilitate creativity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 84, 

Lu, J.G., Akinola, M. & Mason, M.F. (2017). “Switching On” creativity: Task switching can increase creativity by reducing cognitive fixation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 139, pp. 63-75, 

McAleer, J., Bowler, J., Bowler, M., & Schoemann, A. (2019, November 07). Implicit and explicit creativity: Further evidence of the integrative model. Personality and Individual Differences, 154, 

Rego, A., Sousa, F., Marques, C., & Cunha, M. P. (2014). Hope and positive affect mediating the authentic leadership and creativity relationship. Journal of Business Research, 67(2), 200-210. https://doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2012.10.003

Schutte, S. & Malouff, J. M. (2020). Connections between curiosity, flow and creativity. Personality and Individual Differences, 152,