Creativity and Noise
Researchers at the U. of Illinois have proposed a process that describes how noise affects creativity. I’m always interested in learning more about creativity so this study seemed worth reading. Since noise affects writers, artists, students and other creative people, I am summarizing the research conclusions.
1. Noise distracts people but the degree of distraction induced by various noise levels will affect creativity differently.
2. A high level of noise may cause a great deal of distraction, causing individuals to process information to a lesser extent and therefore to exhibit lower creativity.
3. A moderate (vs. low) level of noise/distraction leads to ‘disfluency’ (difficulty processing), which induces a higher construal level so people engage in abstract thinking. Hmmm, interesting.
4. Therefore, a moderate distraction, which induces processing difficulty, enhances creativity by prompting abstract thinking. There is evidence that relates abstract thinking to greater creativity. Smith (1995) suggests that when people are thinking abstractly, they are less likely to fixate, and thus more creative, than those who are thinking concretely.
If you want to have the right level of noise, you can download Coffitivity – it is free. I haven’t tried it so this is not an endorsement.