Thinking Outside the Box: Multiple Identity Mind-Sets Affect Creative Problem Solving


Journal Article

© The Author(s) 2015. Rigid thinking is associated with less creativity, suggesting that priming a flexible mind-set should boost creative thought. In three studies, we investigate whether priming multiple social identities predicts more creativity in domains unrelated to social identity. Study 1 asked monoracial and multiracial participants to write about their racial identities before assessing creativity. Priming a multiracial’s racial identity led to greater creativity compared to a no-prime control. Priming a monoracial’s racial identity did not affect creativity. Study 2 showed that reminding monoracials that they, too, have multiple identities increased creativity. Study 3 replicated this effect and demonstrated that priming a multiracial identity for monoracials did not affect creativity. These results are the first to investigate the association between flexible identities and flexible thinking, highlighting the potential for identity versatility to predict cognitive differences between individuals who have singular versus multifaceted views of their social selves.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gaither, SE; Remedios, JD; Sanchez, DT; Sommers, SR

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 596 - 603

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1948-5514

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1948-5506

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1948550614568866

Citation Source

  • Scopus