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Embodied Metaphors and Creative “Acts”

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Abstract

Creativity is a highly sought after skill. To inspire people’s creativity, prescriptive advice in the form of metaphors abound: We are encouraged to think outside the box, to consider the problem on one hand, then on the other hand, and to put two and two together to achieve creative breakthroughs. These metaphors suggest a connection between concrete bodily experiences and creative cognition. Inspired by recent advances on body-mind linkages under the emerging vernacular of embodied cognition, we explored for the first time whether enacting metaphors for creativity enhances creative problem-solving. In five studies, findings revealed that both physically and psychologically embodying creative metaphors promote fluency, flexibility, and/or originality in problem-solving. Going beyond prior research that focused primarily on the kind of embodiment that primes preexisting knowledge, we provide the first evidence that embodiment can also activate cognitive processes conducive for generating previously unknown ideas and connections.

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2011-01-01

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creativity; metaphors; problem-solving; flexibility; cognitive processes

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Required Publisher Statement: © Sage Publications. Final version forthcoming as: Leung, A. K., Kim, S., Polman, E., Ong, L., Qiu, L., Goncalo, J. A., & Sanchez-Burks, J. (in press). Embodied metaphors and creative “acts”. Psychological Science. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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