Science Says We Get Less Creative as We Age. Prove It Wrong by Doing 1 of These 3 Things

When I was 7, one of my friends got a whiteboard in her room. Much like the closet to Narnia or Platform 9¾, we saw this whiteboard as the key to unlock our imaginations. We used it to design our dream theme park, called Kids World. Each time I went over to my friend’s house, we added more to the board. I never forgot Kids World, and now, with years of experience innovating, I would presumably be able to design a better, more creative Kids World.

But according to science, this may not be the case. New research by UC Berkeley psychologists suggests that creativity generally tends to decline as we age. Through a series of experiments, it was found that adults resorted to less creative thought processes than children. But not to worry–you don’t have to Benjamin Button your way back to creativity. By understanding our adult tendencies, we can be as creative as children. Here are three ways to recover some of the creativity of youth.

1. Entertain the non-obvious.

In one experiment, researchers presented preschoolers, pre-adolescents, teenagers, and adults with two scenarios and two possible hypotheses that could explain each scenario. One hypothesis was an obvious explanation while the other was an unusual, non-obvious one. Adults chose the obvious hypothesis, while children more often chose the non-obvious. Most of the time, creativity is in the non-obvious choice. When searching for ways to explain observations or brainstorming new ideas, encourage yourself and your teams to set the obvious explanation aside while you give at least brief thought to the less obvious. Though it may slow down the search for an answer, it may speed up the process of unlocking creativity.

2. Consider situation before disposition.

In another part of the experiment, researchers shared a social situation with the same age groups. Again, there were two possible explanations, but this time, one focused on people’s traits (i.e., this person must be risk-averse) while the other focused on…

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