Fear Can Impact Our Judgment of Creativity

Before the military coup, we worked with a group of young leaders from non-profit organizations in Yangon. Our collaboration focused on a workshop on Creative Problem Solving (CPS). In this workshop, participants learned how to approach real challenges using the CPS process. Let’s break it down into simpler terms:

In the workshop, the first step was for the participants to set a goal or vision of their goal. Then, they identified all the obstacles that might prevent them from reaching that goal. After that, in a short amount of time, they brainstormed many ideas to overcome those obstacles. From all those ideas, they chose the best ones to create a plan for success.

During the workshop, I introduced a study investigating why people often reject creative ideas, even though they appreciate creativity. The researchers discovered that fear plays a role in this behavior. When people are afraid, they want to reduce uncertainty, avoiding unfamiliar or unpredictable ideas, including creative ones.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers experimented. They asked participants to rate the creativity of different ideas after watching short videos designed to trigger fear, anger, or happiness. The results showed that those in the fear group rated the creative ideas less creative than the anger and happiness groups. This led the researchers to conclude that fear can create a bias against creativity because it pushes people to seek certainty and familiarity.

This study suggests that fear can hold us back from being creative. When we are scared, we become less willing to take risks or try new things, limiting our ability to develop innovative ideas.

But the good news is that we can overcome our fear of creativity. By understanding how fear affects our thinking and being aware of our emotions, we can learn to manage fear and become more open to creative ideas.

The study is important because it shows us how our emotions play a significant role in creativity. If a short video triggering fear can impact our judgment of creativity, imagine the effect of living in a society traumatized by decades of military rule. It highlights the challenges people in such a society might face in expressing and accepting creativity.

In summary, the workshop we conducted aimed to teach young leaders how to solve problems creatively, but we also learned about the influence of fear on creativity through a study. Understanding and managing fear can help us become more creative and open to new ideas, even in challenging environments.

The Institute for Myanmar United was created in 2020 to release the power of human creativity to help individuals, communities, and nations reclaim their freedom, unity, and hope.