Does Living Abroad Stimulate Creativity?

According to a study done by William Maddux, an assistant professor of organizational behavor at INSEAD, people who live abroad are more creative than those who do not.

Learning another language? The study showed that those who spoke more than one language were more creative than those who spoke one. Even if you’ve never traveled but you’ve learned another language, you’re still gaining a multicultural experience and thus stimulating creativity.

The study also says that people who embrase local culture and language were more creative than those who did not (hanging out with only expats for example). So it’s not just living abroad that would inspire creativity. Adapting to the local society while abroad is important. Although the survey didn’t officially publish this, Maddux says that the younger you are, the more likely you’ll stimulate creativity while abroad.

With studies like these, I hope more companies are realizing the importance of career breaks, gap years, sabbaticals, and sending employees abroad.

We’ve already known this but it’s now scientifically proven. Will the american culture change its work ethic with more evidence of studies like these? Will companies start to realize the importance of hiring those with gap years?

The video below was uploaded in 2009.

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