One of the best ways to spark your imaginative juices, says social scientist Adam Galinsky, is to purposely break out of your comfort zone.

That could mean exposing yourself to different points of view and accessing new media. It can be something as simple as taking new routes to work or trying food you haven’t eaten before.

Galinsky’s research points to a proven way to increase your creativity: Make friends with someone from a foreign country.

“There’s something about deeply understanding and learning about another culture that’s transformative,” Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor, told NPR.

What the Research Shows

In one study,  Galinsky and his colleagues tracked business school students during a 10-month MBA program. They tested the students using standard creativity measures at the beginning and end of the school term. They found that students who’d dated someone from another country during the term became more creative.

In another project, Galinsky examined fashion lines presented by major houses over 21 seasons. He found that the time fashion designers spent immersed in a different culture “predicted their entire fashion line creativity.”

Listen to the NPR Podcast

Intrigued by what you’ve read? Want to learn more about stimulating creativity?

Then check out NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast from July 2, The Edge Effect, at this link.

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