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Sitting comfortably? – Environmental cues for creative thinking

March 15, 2011

Getting into a creative frame of mind will help, both in generating solutions to design challenges and also critiquing the results.

The ‘ping’ of the bulb above the head is a long standing design cliché, but its ubiquity has seemingly seeped into our subconscious. Michael Slepian conducted an experiment to observe if light bulbs might actually spur insights. College students were given various problems to solve whilst in the presence of differing light sources. Volunteers exposed to a light bulbs solved all the creative challenges far more efficiently.

Slepian claims, “Creativity is an important asset, and over and above individual differences in creativity, we find something as subtle as an illuminating light bulb in our environment can facilitate insight, and thus lead to more creative solutions to problems.”

US researches have discovered that our tactile environment is also highly relevant in decision making and behaviour. They found that, “weight, texture, and hardness of inanimate objects can unconsciously influence judgments about unrelated events and situations”. So if, as Professor Cary Cooper states, “the best environment will depend on what you want to achieve”, what would determine a suitable environment for creative thinking?

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