Hidden Metaphors Get under Our Skin

Scientific American Mind:

Look around. Do you see four walls or an expansive vista? The answer could influence your ability to think creatively. A growing body of research suggests that our sensory experiences can trigger metaphorical thinking, influencing our insights and behavior without us even realizing it. New research reveals ways we might be able to harness these subconscious forces.

“If you’re actively touching an object with the expectation that it will change your view of a situation, it might not work right away,” explains Joshua Ackerman, a psychologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-author of the smoothness study. “But if you make such behavior a habit, you will gradually stop thinking about the connection, and it will then have a stronger effect.” In a similar vein, freeing yourself from perceived constraints may indeed facilitate “thinking outside the box.”

In a series of experiments published in May 2012 in Psychological Science, scientists tested participants’ creative thinking while they literally sat inside or outside a cardboard box. Other participants either walked freely or along the path of a rectangle.

Read the whole story: Scientific American Mind

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