The Wall Street Journal:
Why is it that some people rack their brains for new ideas, only to come up empty—while others seem to shake them almost effortlessly out of their sleeves?
Whether creativity is an innate gift or a cognitive process that anyone can jump-start is a question so intriguing that researchers keep studying it from different angles and discovering new and surprising techniques.
But personality isn’t the only path to inspiration, researchers say. Walking away from a problem to do simple, routine tasks, and letting the mind wander in the process, can spark creative new connections or approaches to solving dilemmas, says a 2012 study in Psychological Science. That helps explain why “a lot of great ideas occur at transition times,” when people are waking up or falling asleep, bathing, showering or jogging, says Jennifer Wiley, a psychology professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of a 2012 research summary in Current Directions in Psychological Science.
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