From the NY Times on the state of the creative environment:

Historically, the evidence has favored the tidy camp. Cleanliness, as the proverb says, is next to godliness.

But if messiness is so bad, why do so many people tolerate, and even embrace, it?

Forty-eight research subjects came individually to our laboratory…assigned to messy or tidy rooms. …we told subjects to imagine that a Ping-Pong ball factory needed to think of new uses for Ping-Pong balls, and to write down as many ideas as they could….Answers rated low in creativity included using Ping-Pong balls for beer pong (a party game that in fact uses Ping-Pong balls, hence the low rating on innovation). Answers rated high in creativity included using Ping-Pong balls as ice cube trays, and attaching them to chair legs to protect floors.

When we analyzed the responses, we found that the subjects in both types of rooms came up with about the same number of ideas, which meant they put about the same effort into the task. Nonetheless, the messy room subjects were more creative, as we expected. Not only were their ideas 28 percent more creative on average, but when we analyzed the ideas that judges scored as “highly creative,” we found a remarkable boost from being in the messy room — these subjects came up with almost five times the number of highly creative responses as did their tidy-room counterparts.

There…feel better now?

I certainly do…

alberteinsteinsdeskAlbert Einstein. Princeton, New Jersey. 1953
photo © Esther Bubley, photojournalist

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