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Fourteen acts or mindsets that have been shown–using science!–to increase creativity, from a two-article series on scientifically-proven methods to increase your creativity:

  1. Psychological distance: Imagine your creative task as distant and disconnected from your current location.
  2. Chronological distance: Project yourself or the task forward in time.
  3. Absurdist stimulation: Read some Kafka: absurdity is a ‘meaning threat’, making our mind work harder to find meaning and enhancing pattern recognition abilities.
  4. Use highly emotional states: Highly-charged emotional states increase problem solving and flexible thinking.
  5. Combine opposites: ‘Janusian thinking‘ helps integrative ideas emerge.
  6. Take resistive paths: The path of least resistance typically leads to ideas lacking in creativity (as they’re inherently built on existing ideas).
  7. Re-conceptualisation: Re-conceive the problem in different ways before trying to solve it, focusing on discovery at the problem-formulation stage.
  8. Counterfactual mindset: Two types of ‘what could have been’ thinking:

    • Subtractive for analytical problems (what could have been removed?).
    • Additive for expansive problems (what could have been added?).
  9. Two simultaneous problems: Multiple concurrent problems help the recall of previous creative solutions that may be related.
  10. Generic verbs: Focus on abstract rather than specific details of the problem (by thinking of problem-specific verbs in more generic terms).
  11. Synonyms and category taxonomies: Look at the problem category or type and discover hidden structures (by thinking of problem-specific details as synonyms and category taxonomies).
  12. Engage conflict: Social conflicts give us intense motivated focus.
  13. Think love not sex: Thoughts of love shift our minds to a long-term viewpoint while sexual thoughts shift them to the immediate, which is more analytical.
  14. Stop daydreaming: Somewhat against Csikszentmihalyi’s advice, incubation has shows minimal creative improvements. However its advantage may be in that it helps us forget previous bad ideas.


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