Thinking like a stereotypical creative or imaginative person can help in improving creative thinking.
Stereotypes are those, who embody a set type or image, i.e. they are well defined and rigid. They are often simple in nature having known set of rules, therefore it is possible for a person to think like them. The “Stereotype effect” is one of the highly studied psychological phenomena.
In a recent study from University of Maryland, U.S., researchers performed two experiments. In the first experiment, researchers divided 96 students from different fields of studies into 3 groups. One group of students was asked to think like “an eccentric poet.” Second group of students was asked to think like “a rigid librarian”. The third group received no stereotype-related instruction. Researchers checked the creativity of those three groups by telling them the name of 10 commonly used objects and asking them to write as many original uses of them as possible. They found that the group of students, who were asked to think like “an eccentric poet” came with more (number of) original ideas as compared to the other groups. On the other hand, group of students, who thank like “a rigid librarian” scored lowest as compared to other two groups.
In the second experiment, researchers worked with 105 students and made three similar groups, but each student was asked to think like “an eccentric poet” for five objects and like “a rigid librarian” for other five objects. This time participants came with more number of original ideas, when they thought like “an eccentric poet”.
“As the results of these studies show, provision of different stereotypes is an effective approach to enhancing divergent thinking: a key indicator of creative thought,” researchers wrote in the paper.
Findings of the study can help in improving our educational system in which creativity of kids is often blocked by disturbing their way of thinking. “In any system that places an emphasis on test scores,” researchers wrote, “test-takers may feel compelled to adopt a rigid perspective when performing a creative task.”
We have to develop a system in which kids would be allowed to think like a great thinker rather than just cramming or memorizing information.
Dumas, D., & Dunbar, K. (2016). The Creative Stereotype Effect PLOS ONE, 11 (2) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142567