People Working Abroad Are More Creative, Say Top Psychologists

According to Adam Grant, psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, people who live away from their hometowns are more creative than those who live where they were born. By ‘far away’ he means that they live abroad.

Mr Grant says that different cultures bring a whole new set of issues to the lives of people who go and live in other countries. They see different norms and values, and develop a new way of looking at things.

“Cultures come with new norms and values and ways of looking at things,” he explains.

“Any time you have a problem, you have an extra set of resources at your disposal to say, America has taught me to think about it this way,” he says. “However, if we were to go to Chile, here’s how I would look at a problem while I’m there.”

Taking someone who has never left their home country, you will find that they only way they look at a problem is the way the country traditionally looks at it. However, a person who has moved abroad and lives in a different country now has two different ways to look at the same problem. The solutions may be completely opposite from each other.

Karl Lagerfeld credits his creativity to his internationalism
Karl Lagerfeld credits his creativity to his internationalism

When people live abroad, they are forced to integrate themselves into the culture of the new country. People like Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Paris, and Paul Gaugain, who lived in Tahiti are good examples of the enhanced creativeness of those who live in other countries.

In a study done in 2015 we see that the most successful fashion houses all have directors who lived abroad. Karl Lagerfield is a good example. Karl as born in Germany to a Swedish father, and spent his life travelling between France and Italy.

Extensive studies have shown that expatriots are more likely to be highly creative than people who have never left their own countries. The study also shows that bilingual people show far more creativity than people who can only speak one language.

“Juxtaposing these two different worldviews lets you come up with new possibilities,” Grant says.

The conclusion says Grant, is that being immersed into more than one culture helps you combine the old and the new, and arrive at another point of view, which then brings new possibilities.

Source: Business Insider UK