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60-Second Mind

Increase Your Creativity: Live Abroad

Recent research shows that people who have lived in a foreign country are more creative when it comes to solving problems. Christie Nicholson reports

[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]

For the recently graduated or retired—or those who have some unexpected free time thanks to the recession—consider the benefits of an extended trip abroad.

A study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found evidence that living abroad enhances creative thinking.

Researchers tested the creativity of business students. Students were given a candle, box of tacks and matches, and were told to construct a way to attach the candle to the wall, so that wax would not drip on the floor.

And it turns out that the length of time spent living abroad is a significant predictor of coming up with the most creative solution.

But, it was only living abroad that rewarded students with increased creativity. Two weeks of hostel hopping don’t count.

And it’s not that creative people are more likely to live abroad. Access to different culture and novel ideas increases both new ways of problem solving, as well as the willingness to actually apply novel solutions. Such as emptying the box of tacks, hot waxing the candle to the box and then tacking the box to the wall.

So here’s to science for bolstering the argument for living in Costa Rica until the recession is over!

—Christie Nicholson

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