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Thinking Outside the Box: How Diversity Boosts Your Creativity

Familiarity is comfortable, but it doesn’t foster growth or inspiration.

Last week’s NPR Hidden Brain podcast was about diversity and creativity.

During the episode, we hear from:

  • Richard Freeman, an economics professor at Harvard University who, after noticing that scientists tend to work in labs with other scientists of the same ethnicity, conducted a study that found published scientific research gets more attention if the researchers are ethnically diverse.
  • Adam Galinsky, a business professor at Columbia Business School as well as social scientist, who has studied the effect dating someone from a different ethnicity has on one’s creativity.
  • Cristina Pato, a self-proclaimed independent artist from Galicia who discusses the heavy presence of bagpipe music in Galacia, her journey becoming a bagpipe player like her sisters, how her bagpipe playing changed when she started touring with bands elsewhere (“The Jimi Hendrix of Bagpipes”), and more.

I won’t give you a play-by-play of the podcast; it’s only 38 minutes, so go listen! It’s super interesting, I promise.

However, I will give you the gist, which is — if you haven’t guessed yet — surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people can boost your creativity.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

If you’re always surrounded by the same people — and those same people are more or less exactly like you — you’re not getting exposed to others’ ways of life and, in turn, the water in your inspiration well just stays plain ol’ water.

Yet, assuming you can’t just hop a flight to another country and make a new friend group (and assuming COVID-19 is still going on as you’re reading this), how are you supposed to increase diversity in your life?

What if you tried:

  • Listening to popular bands from another country?
  • Subscribing to a podcast owned and about people of a different race?
  • Watching a documentary about the struggles of other genders?
  • Interview people who lead roles in life different from yours?
  • Reading the autobiography of someone who’s had wildly different life experiences than you?

Sure, nothing’s as great as actually diversifying your group, but again, with the coronavirus pandemic still waging war, we do what we can.

How about you? How does diversity affect your creativity? Or, thinking about it, could you use a little more diversity?

Couldn’t we all?

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Thinking Outside the Box: How Diversity Boosts Your Creativity

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2020). Thinking Outside the Box: How Diversity Boosts Your Creativity. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Aug 2020
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