Embodied metaphors and creative "acts"
Leung, Angela K.-y.
Ong, Lay See
Goncalo, Jack A.
Date of Issue2012
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Creativity is a highly sought-after skill. Prescriptive advice for inspiring creativity abounds in the form of metaphors: People are encouraged to “think outside the box,” to consider a problem “on one hand, then on the other hand,” and to “put two and two together” to achieve creative breakthroughs. These metaphors suggest a connection between concrete bodily experiences and creative cognition. Inspired by recent advances in the understanding of body-mind linkages in the research on embodied cognition, we explored whether enacting metaphors for creativity enhances creative problem solving. Our findings from five studies revealed that both physical and psychological embodiment of metaphors for creativity promoted convergent thinking and divergent thinking (i.e., fluency, flexibility, or originality) in problem solving. Going beyond prior research, which focused primarily on the kind of embodiment that primes preexisting knowledge, we provide the first evidence that embodiment can also activate cognitive processes that facilitate the generation of new ideas and connections.
© 2012 The Authors.