HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessHere's How New Training Approach Can Make Anyone More Creative

Here’s How New Training Approach Can Make Anyone More Creative

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Research from the American Psychological Association shows that people often doubt how much they would enjoy being alone with their own thoughts and free from any distractions.

According to research main author Aya Hatano, PhD, of Kyoto University in Japan, “humans have a striking ability to immerse themselves in their own thinking.” 

The findings of the study suggest “that individuals have difficulty appreciating just how engaging thinking can be.” 

And “that could explain, according to the author, “why people prefer keeping themselves busy with devices and other distractions, rather than taking a moment for reflection and imagination in daily life.”

The findings of the study were presented in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

In a series of six tests involving a total of 259 individuals, the researchers compared people’s expectations of how much they would enjoy merely sitting and thinking with their actual experience. In the first experiment, participants were asked to estimate how much they would like being alone with their thoughts for 20 minutes without being permitted to read, stroll, or use a smartphone. After it was over, people expressed how much they had liked it.

Researchers discovered that people like spending time alone with their thoughts much more than they had anticipated. This held true for variations of the experiment in which subjects were asked to report their enjoyment halfway through the task rather than at the end. Other variations included those in which the thinking period lasted three minutes or for twenty minutes and those in which subjects were asked to sit in a small, dark tent or a barren conference room with no visual stimulation. In each case, participants found that they loved thinking more than they had anticipated.

In another test, the researchers compared how much one group of participants thought they would like to think with how much they thought they would like to check the news online. The researchers discovered once more that people overestimated their enjoyment of thinking. Although the thinking group anticipated enjoying the work much less than the news-checking group, both groups later reported identical degrees of satisfaction.

Kou Murayama, PhD, a co-author of the study from the University of Tübingen in Germany, believes that these findings are particularly significant in the present era of information overload and easy access to distractions. 

“It’s now extremely easy to ‘kill time’,” the author adds. 

“On the bus on your way to work, you can check your phone rather than immerse yourself in your internal free-floating thinking, because you predict thinking will be boring. 

“However, if that prediction is inaccurate, you are missing an opportunity to positively engage yourself without relying on such stimulation.”

According to the researchers, that lost chance has a cost because prior study has demonstrated that allowing your mind to wander occasionally has some advantages. It can aid people in problem-solving, creativity, and even the search for purpose in life. People may overlook these crucial advantages if they purposefully ignore mental tasks, according to Murayama.

It’s important to emphasize that, according to Murayama, participants didn’t find thinking to be particularly enjoyable; rather, they found it to be more enjoyable than they had anticipated.

On a scale from 1 to 7, participants’ levels of satisfaction ranged from 3 to 4. Murayama suggests that future studies should explore the sorts of thinking that are most stimulating and enjoyable.

Some people are actually prone to negative thought cycles, according to him, so not all thinking is innately rewarding.

According to the researchers, future studies should look into the causes of people’s misconceptions about how much they will enjoy thinking.

Additionally, the findings must be confirmed in groups that are more diverse than those in the current study, in which every participant was a college student from the U.K. or Japan.

Image Credit: Getty

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