Want to be creative? Solve someone else’s problem!

April 20, 2011 Katharina Lochner

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3 ideas to help solve our problems

Have you ever experienced this situation before? You are sitting at your desk, desperately trying to solve a problem, and you are totally stuck. Then one of your colleagues comes in and tells you that she needs your help in solving a problem. You come up with a solution for her problem right away, but you are still stuck with your own problem. Does this sound familiar to you? Well, you are not the only person who can solve someone else’s problems more easily than your own ones.

Evan Polman from New York University and Kyle J. Emich from Cornell University found that people are faster and more creative when finding solutions for someone else’s problem. The authors see the reason for this phenomenon in the predictions construal level theory makes: The more distant an object in space, time, or relationship, the more abstract we see it – and can be more creative about it!

The original article can be found here.

Dan Pink outlines the three experiments and also gives some ideas on how you can solve you own problems more effectively: Trade problems with someone, solve problems on behalf of someone else, or put some distance between yourself and your project.

About the Author

Katharina Lochner

Dr Katharina Lochner is the former research director for the cut-e Group which was acquired by Aon in 2017. Katharina is now a researcher and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Europe in Iserlohn, Germany. In her role at cut-e, she applied the research in organizational and work psychology to real-world assessment practice. She has a strong expertise in the construction and evaluation of online psychometric tools.

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