The 10.5 minute YouTube video, “How to stimulate creativity? Go live abroad” shares some interesting research findings about creativity and those who live for extended periods of time in foreign cultures. “William Maddux, an assistant professor of organisational behavior at INSEAD,” shares these research findings.

Maddux found that simply TRAVELING abroad was/is not correlated with increased creative capacities. It seems it is important that when people live in foreign cultures, they get out into the culture and really immerse themselves in novel contexts. Learning multiple languages was also correlated with enhanced creative capacities in this study. Not surprisingly, researchers also found that the younger people go live in an immersed, foreign cultural context, the greater the impact that experience can have in enhancing creative capacities. Researchers suggest many entrepreneurs have extended international living experiences, and HR departments should look for those types of experiences if firms want to hire creative people.

Researchers also noted it is NOT necessary for someone to travel to a different country to experience in-depth, cultural immersion in novel contexts. People can find those types of intercultural experiences right in their own backyards, so to speak, when ethnically and linguistically diverse communities live near each other.

As a former AFS exchange student and Fulbright scholar, I can certainly attest to the tremendous value of extended intercultural experiences. I heartily agree with the implication of this research, that we should not only TRAVEL abroad more to experience other cultures, we should actively seek to immerse ourselves in different cultural contexts to increase our capacities to learn, to understand others, to better communicate, and to think more creatively as we solve problems and make connections with others.

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