Dr. Srini Pillay, Best-Selling Author & Neuroscientist, Challenges Ideas on Creativity

Saturday, November 17, 2018 General News
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"The great irony about the public's obsession with creativity is that people tend to frame it in uncreative ways. People either believe they are creatively-minded or not, without any middle-ground in between." - Dr. Srini Pillay

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Dr. Srini Pillay, a best-selling

author, neuroscientist, tech entrepreneur and an assistant professor at Harvard University, has spent a large chunk of his career subverting ideas on creativity. He believes that the key to unlocking your creative potential is to defy the advice that urges you to "believe in yourself." Instead, people should do the exact opposite. They should believe they are someone else.

"The great irony about the public's obsession with creativity is that people tend to frame it in uncreative ways," states Dr. Pillay, "people either believe they are creatively-minded or not, without any middle-ground in between." He urges that people look to a 2016 study that demonstrates the impact of stereotypes on one's behavior.

The authors of the study, educational psychologists Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar, divided their subjects into three groups, instructing the members of one to think of themselves as "eccentric poets" and the members of another to imagine they were "rigid librarians" (the third group was the control). The researchers then presented all the participants with ten objects, and asked them to come up with as many uses as possible for each one. Those who were asked to imagine themselves as eccentric poets came up with the most ideas, while those in the rigid-librarian group had the fewest.

These results suggest that creativity is not an individual trait but a "malleable product of context and perspective." Everyone can be creative, as long as they feel like a creative person. Dr. Pillay's work takes this one step further: He argues that simply identifying yourself as creative is less powerful than taking the bold, creative step of imagining yourself as somebody else. This exercise, which he calls "Psychological Halloweenism," refers to the conscious action of inhabiting another persona.

According to Dr. Pillay, it works because it is an act of "conscious un­focus," a way of stimulating the default mode network, a collection of brain regions that spring into action when you're not focused on a specific task or thought. Most people spend nearly half of their days in a state of "unfocus." This doesn't make them slackers; it makes them human. The quietly revolutionary idea behind psychological Halloweenism is: What if people stopped judging themselves for their mental downtime and instead started harnessing it?

Putting this new spin on daydreaming means tackling two problems at once: People are making themselves more creative, and they're giving themselves permission to do something they would otherwise feel guilty about. "Imagining yourself in a new situation, or an entirely new identity," concludes Dr. Pillay, "never felt so productive."

 

SOURCE Dr. Srini Pillay



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