So many movies, self-help books and self-proclaimed motivational speakers advocate the power of believing in self. What does social science say? Interestingly, social science says the same. At least in the domain of creativity. For example, one study by Kimberly Jaussi and Amy Randel (2014) showed that those who believe that they are creative are likely to come up with more radically creative ideas than those who don’t. Why? Mainly because people who believe in themselves tend to seek information better. A belief that one is creative actually makes one seek information from more varied sources and seek more creative solutions.
The movie ‘We bought a zoo’ is a nice family movie. Despite not being a masterpiece it has this unique endearing quality. In that movie, there is a fantastic dialogue, “….sometimes all you need is is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it. ” This can simply be dismissed as mere drama, but science supports it as well.
What if someone doesn’t believe that he/she is creative? There are two alternatives. First, It has been shown in various studies that through creativity training, one can actually increase ‘self-efficacy’ (The first such study was published in 1984, Lock et al.). In other words, if you learn specific techniques for creative idea generation, you are likely to start believing that you are creative. On the other hand, the research mentioned above actually shows that individuals with lower levels of creative self-belief are still capable of coming up with creative ideas. However, their ideas are likely to be more ‘incremental’ in nature. So, if you think you are not creative, still you can make creative suggestions to improve an existing solution.
In summary, whether you believe it or not, you are creative! However, if you believe that you are creative, you are likely to be more ‘out-of-the-box’ than others. You are more likely to experience that momentary ‘Insane courage’ !!
Jaussi, K., & Randel, A. (2014). Where to Look? Creative Self-Efficacy, Knowledge Retrieval, and Incremental and Radical Creativity Creativity Research Journal, 26 (4), 400-410 DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2014.961772
Locke, E., Frederick, E., Lee, C., & Bobko, P. (1984). Effect of self-efficacy, goals, and task strategies on task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69 (2), 241-251 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.69.2.241