Creativity abounds if you live outside your homeland

Science says expats are more creative, so it must be true. According to research published by the American Psychological Association (five studies in all), living abroad opens minds and leads to new experiences – all of which points to creativity. The research will be published in May in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Of course, the conclusion is a tad obvious, as the people most likely to choose this lifestyle are probably open-minded and eager to accumulate new experiences. The research team made room for this fact by saying that the project’s results do not prove causation.

As quoted in Reuters, lead author William Maddux, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at European business school INSEAD, says, “This research may have something to say about the increasing impact of globalization on the world, a fact that has been hammered home by the recent financial crisis.”

In perhaps the most interesting component of this project, Kellogg Business School MBA students were presented with the “Duncker candle problem,” which tests creativity. The subject is given a candle, a pack of matches and a box of tacks, and the task is to attach the candle to a wall so that it will burn properly and not drip wax on the table or floor. Students having spent more time living abroad were more likely to come up with the solution.

Think you have the right answer? Test your results after the jump.

Solution to the Duncker candle problem:

  • Use the empty box of tacks as a candle holder
  • Tack the empty box to the wall
  • Light the candle

Yep, it seems so easy this way, but it can be a bear when you’re faced with the problem and have to come up with the answers on your own … especially when you’re being watched!