Multicultural experience enhances creativity: The when and how

Angela Ka yee Leung*, William W. Maddux, Adam D. Galinsky, Chi Yue Chiu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

423 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many practices aimed at cultivating multicultural competence in educational and organizational settings (e.g., exchange programs, diversity education in college, diversity management at work) assume that multicultural experience fosters creativity. In line with this assumption, the research reported in this article is the first to empirically demonstrate that exposure to multiple cultures in and of itself can enhance creativity. Overall, the authors found that extensiveness of multicultural experiences was positively related to both creative performance (insight learning, remote association, and idea generation) and creativity-supporting cognitive processes (retrieval of unconventional knowledge, recruitment of ideas from unfamiliar cultures for creative idea expansion). Furthermore, their studies showed that the serendipitous creative benefits resulting from multicultural experiences may depend on the extent to which individuals open themselves to foreign cultures, and that creativity is facilitated in contexts that deemphasize the need for firm answers or existential concerns. The authors discuss the implications of their findings for promoting creativity in increasingly global learning and work environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

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    Leung, A. K. Y., Maddux, W. W., Galinsky, A. D., & Chiu, C. Y. (2008). Multicultural experience enhances creativity: The when and how. American Psychologist, 63(3), 169-181. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.63.3.169