“Specific curiosity as a driver of creativity”

The present research examines the causal relationship between specific curiosity and creativity. To explicate this relationship, we introduce the concept of idea linking, a cognitive process that entails using aspects of early ideas as input for subsequent ideas in a sequential manner, such that one idea is a stepping stone to the next.

Study 1 demonstrated the causal effect of specific curiosity on creativity.

Study 2, a field study of artisans selling handmade goods online, found that experiencing specific curiosity predicts greater next-day creativity.

Study 3 demonstrated idea linking as a mechanism for the effect of specific curiosity on creativity.

Study 4 further established the impact of idea linking on creativity, finding that it boosted creativity beyond the well-established intervention of brainstorming.

We discuss specific curiosity as a state that fuels creativity through idea linking and idea linking as a novel technique for creative idea generation.

(Paper via here and freely available with a Google)

Some interesting insights from this:

  1. Maintaining an active list of “open questions” might make you more creative. Is there a way to reframe your general interests into a list of questions? I did something a bit like that with my areas of inquiry post recently
  2. Doing things leads to questions leads to creativity leads to doing things…. There’s a nice virtuous cycle here where finding specific problems - i.e. specific questions leads you into a positive cycle of curiousity and creativity…

Update: I wonder if there’s value in a little tool/prompt/exercise that encourages people to convert their general, abstract interest into a set of active questions. I have a hunch that if you can push people into a question mindset they can be more focused, more creative, less distracted and more likely to spend time on their interests….