When I say “banana,” what’s the first verb that comes to mind? New research explores creativity using a noun/verb exercise.
Here’s a simple, non-invasive way to test your creativity. Have a friend give you a list of 10 nouns and then write down an interesting verb that relates to each. Move through the list of nouns quickly, don’t over-think your answers, and no erasing!
The more innovative or “semantically distant” the verb, the more creative you probably are in your professional and artistic pursuits, according to a recent study published in the journal Behavior Research Methods.
“I was hoping there’d be spontaneous words in the non-creative condition. But there was no difference,” says Jeremy Gray, an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, co-authored the study. The reason: “If you simply ask me for a verb, I won’t say something very crazy, because you’ll think I’m weird,” he says. Which means that employers need to create a culture in which creative output is explicitly encouraged. When asked to be creative, individuals with innovative ways of thinking “could rise to the occasion,” says Gray. “But the rest of the time, they were boring.”
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