Creative Cliff Illusion and How to Boost Your Creativity to Increase Your Productivity

You likely misunderstand your own creativity across an ideation session and probably give up too soon.

The reality is that the most creative ideas emerge when you give yourself the freedom and space to sit in the creative thought process long enough.

It’s one of the reasons why I love doing long bike rides. A regular bike ride for me is 35 miles over the span of a little over two hours. 

I’ll leave the house with a problem I’m trying to solve or an idea for a podcast episode like this one. 

The first few miles I’ll have some OK ideas, by the time 90 minutes rolls around I have those a-ha solutions and ideas for things I never thought about

And don’t take my world for it, there’s scientific research to back this up…

A study done at Princeton University titled The creative cliff illusion

They demonstrated that people systematically misunderstand their own creativity across an ideation session. 

Eight studies found that people expect their creativity to decline across an ideation session when it, in fact, tends to improve or persist (they call this misprediction the creative cliff illusion). 

These beliefs are consequential because they lead people to undervalue ideation: They exhibit less task persistence and lower creative performance. 

Their research shows the fundamental disconnect between people’s beliefs and the reality of how creativity emerges over time. 

So when you are  feeling creatively stuck, avoid frustration and allow yourself to persist. Go for a walk, a run, a bike ride. Don’t give up when you feel the frustration increase because sticking with it is what is required to feel that “a-ha!” moment of clarity. 

Your move.  

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