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Relaxation Benefits Introverts More Than Extraverts in Boosting Creativity

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Everybody loves creativity. Organizations spend large sums of money on programs designed to “unleash creativity”– from Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking program to Tony Buzan’s mind-mapping techniques, to Scott Isaksen and Donald Treffinger’s creative problem solving Process (CPS). But can creativity really be trained?

In one of the biggest reviews on this topic, Ginamarie Scott and colleagues assessed the effectiveness of 156 training programs and found that 11 forms of training did have some value. The techniques that were particularly effective were those that targeted the cognitive processes underlying creativity, such as idea generation. Likewise, two other studies [see here and here] found that training ideational skills had a positive impact on creative thinking, both alone and in a group brainstorming context.

Another form of creativity training that has shown some positive effects is “relaxation training“, which includes exercises such as stretching and breathing. Relaxation training appears to increase creativity by reducing anxiety and freeing the mind from negative thinking. This form of training is related to mindfulness meditation. Indeed, a recent review of the literature found a moderate relationship between creativity and mindfulness– with the relationship strongest for “open-monitoring” meditation

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