Most People are Secretly Threatened by Creativity


Creativity is highly prized in Western society—much touted by cultures that claim to value individualism and the entrepreneurial spirit. But scratch beneath the surface, and it turns out that a lot of schools and businesses aren’t actually all that excited about bold new ideas. By and large, we tend to be threatened by creativity—and eager to shut it down. The problem begins with education. We know that teachers say creativity is important. But research shows that many teachers define creativity as a skill that’s mainly ... read more

Chinese and American Consumers Have Different Ideas About What Makes a Product Creative


When consumers believe a product is creative, they are more likely to like, share, and buy it. And yet not everyone agrees on what “creativity” looks like. Jeffrey Loewenstein and I recently published a study examining the features that indicate whether a product is creative in the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China. We found that the two countries had different views of what made a product creative. For example, the kind of product that an American loves and finds highly creative might seem trivial to a Chinese... read more

How to Change a Person’s Mind


The other day, while browsing through the news, I read a heartwarming story about a Muslim family-owned restaurant advertising free meals for the homeless and elderly on Christmas day. An advertisement pinned to the door of the restaurant read, “So nobody will eat alone.” I thought the story was so beautiful, I showed it to my grandmother. She read the article and said, “That is a funny joke!”  Confused I replied, “This isn’t a joke, Grandma—this is a real story.”  My grandmoth... read more

Why We Resist Creativity When We Need It Most


Sometimes you can’t solve a problem without creativity.  For example, the Republicans have stated that they will repeal and replace Obamacare.  In other words, the Republicans have given themselves a mandate to thwart the status quo and generate something new.  Curiously though, they have yet to embrace a single agreed upon plan to do just that. I study how people recognize creative opportunity.  One of the major findings that falls from my work is that the mindsets people adopt can obscure their ability to see va... read more

How I Overcame Resistance to My Work on the Bias Against Creativity


I will never forget the first time I presented the bias against creativity paper to a group of senior colleagues. The studies in the paper showed that even though participants overwhelmingly indicated they loved creativity, they could also harbor an unacknowledged bias against embracing it. When I started the talk I felt confident and prepared. I had taken the advice of all the idea selling gurus – I knew my data cold. I also strategically used an analogy to compare our paper to other successful papers in the creativity literature. The id... read more