Interesting piece on on how to trick oneself into creativity over at Psycasm. I thought the best bit was below:
In a seperate papar, Chrysikou (2006), looked at how best to train insight. It seems (from my understanding of the paper) that some simple mental-flexibility excercises significantly improve your ability to solve ‘goal-directed’ tasks.
A classic example is the candle problem.
The candle problem:
Task: One must fix a candle to a wall (or corkboard) in such a way that, when alight, the candle does not drip wax onto the floor.
Materials: One candle. A box of matches. A handful of Tacks. One wall (which cannot be moved or otherwise manipulated)
Try it right now. Give yourself two minutes.
Now try it again, but do the following tasks first:
Describe half a dozen different uses for a shoe, that differ from it’s use as footwear; Describe half a dozen uses for a fork, that differ from its standard use; Describe half a dozen uses for a keyboard, that differ from it’s standard use.
Chrysikou (2006) found that after engaging in tasks (similiar to those described above) one is more capable and more efficient at generating insight regarding goal-directed tasks.
I’m going to have to give the above a try next time I get stuck while writing.
Chrysikou, E. (2006). When Shoes Become Hammers: Goal-Derived Categorization Training Enhances Problem-Solving Performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32 (4), 935-942 DOI: 10.1037/0278-73188.8.131.525