If you’re an artist or entrepreneur, you know that creativity is key. You seek inspiration in the world around you and know how important it is to think and feel deeply in order to create your best work. Turns out, the person you date could also play a huge part in your artistic practice, and if you want to take innovation in your craft to the next level, you should be looking for love in someone from another country.
According to a new study by social psychologist and Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky, there’s a serious link between creativity and having relationships—both romantic and platonic—with someone from an entirely different culture. To test his theory, he performed a few different experiments, the first of which required a class of MBA students to answer questions about having lived or traveled overseas before asking them to solve a creativity problem. Those who spent the most time in another country fared better on that problem while those who only traveled abroad briefly saw no change in their problem-solving abilities.
The following experiment studied creative executives at fashion houses over the period of 21 seasons, again finding that “when the creative director had lived abroad or worked abroad, they were more likely to be creative,” according to Galinsky.
Lastly, their latest three-part study published in Journal of Applied Psychology aimed to connect the previous findings to interpersonal relationships. They first asked 115 students from a 10-month international MBA program to take a creativity test at the beginning and end of their program. Those who reported having dated someone from another culture during their MBA program “exhibited superior creative performance.”
Next, 128 volunteers were asked to reflect on their past dating experiences both with other Americans and a foreign country. Researchers found that when relaying memories from their intercultural relationships, the participants were far more creative, leading to the conclusion that “intercultural dating promotes creativity because it allows for cultural learning.”
Finally, 163 volunteers took a creativity test while also revealing past relationships both international and not, along with how long they lasted. The longer international relationships lasted, the more creative the participant was found to be. Pretty cool, right?
The takeaway? While you don’t necessarily have to seek out a partner from another country specifically to become more artistic or creative, it makes sense that expanding our horizons and learning more about how other cultures live and work can only make us more emotionally and mentally intelligent as well as helping us to be more sympathetic, empathetic people. What’s not to love?
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