Imagination stuck? Imagine you’re in California. (If you’re in California, imagine you’re in New Orleans).
From Scientific American:
For the insight problems, participants were told that the questions were developed either by a research institute located in California, “around 2,000 miles away” (distant condition), or in Indiana, “2 miles away,” (near condition). In a third, control group no information regarding location was mentioned. As expected, participants in the distant condition solved more problems than participants in the proximal condition and in the control condition. Because the problems seemed farther away, they were easier to solve.
This pair of studies suggests that even minimal cues of psychological distance can make us more creative. Although the geographical origin of the various tasks was completely irrelevant – it shouldn’t have mattered where the questions came from – simply telling subjects that they came from somewhere far away led to more creative thoughts.