Israeli scientists conducted a study that revealed just how much people underestimate their originality, thus undermine their creativity. Limits can make one very inventive, but more so, thinking about what others do reduces the potential of free-thinking.
The study had three phases made on three different groups of individuals. All of them gave the same answer: creativity needs freedom. Freedom of our judgment, of the judgment we think others might have, and freedom of everyone else’s freedom.
In the first phase, subjects were asked to give possible uses for different household items and then assess their originality for the purposes they considered possible, other than the obvious one. The degree of self-underestimating was extreme.
The same happened with the second phase, where subjects were divided into two groups. The first group was told that the average number of uses others named were two, and the other group that it was six. The first group came up with a similar number of possible answers, while the second group became more inventive.
The link between creativity and the lack of judgment
Rules, limits, and expectations became the set up of creativity. In the end, all subjects were asked to evaluate the originality of their answers, and the outcome was the same as in the first phase.
In the last phase of the trial, the same scenario was used with a little difference in the training stage. There, some of the subjects were praised for their answers, while others were told that their answers were common.
After the actual study, subjects were asked to evaluate the originality of their answers — the ones who were priorly praised thought of their results of being highly original, while the others underestimated theirs.
The conclusion is as simple as it is hard to achieve. To let yourself be creative, you must first stop judging yourself by thinking you are not creative enough. Stop thinking about originality, or if somebody else already said or did what you are trying to. Just say it.