A recent article by Oren Shapira and Nira Liberman in the magazine Scientific American discusses some new findings on creativity by psychologists Lile Jia, Edward R. Hirta and Samuel C. Karpena of Indiana University. The authors discuss the concept of “psychological distance” and claim that it helps creative thinking. Anything that happens a long way away, or at different time to the present, or to someone other than me is said to be psychologically distant. An experimental study carried out with students supports the claim.
The article provides scientific confirmation for an effect that creativity practitioners have been aware of for a long time: that it is helpful to look for ideas “over there”, rather than “here”. There exist a large number of ideation techniques that utilize this effect.