Tim Harford: How Can Chaos Lead To Creative Breakthroughs?
Psychologist Daniel Oppenheimer a few years ago, teamed up with high school teachers. He asked them to reformat the handouts that they were giving to some of their classes. Some were formatted in something straightforward, such as Helvetica or Times New Roman. However, half these classes got handouts formatted in something intense, like Haettenschweiler, or something with a zesty bounce, like Comic Sans Italicized.
Now, these are hideous fonts, and they're difficult fonts to read. But at the end of the semester, students were given exams. The students asked to read the more difficult fonts had done better in their exams in a variety of subjects. The reason is the problematic fonts forced them to slow them down, forcing them to work a bit harder, and as a result, they learned more.
These disruptions help us solve problems, and in turn, help us become more creative.
So true. How many times have you encountered problems or obstacles that led to creative results?
I end the comment with this from Tim:
There's a beautiful example from London that could not be more every day, where, a few years ago, the London Underground suffered a partial shutdown because there was a strike because of a labor dispute. The shutdown lasted two days. For those two days, everybody who was used to commuting around London probably had to find a different way to get to work.
So three economists got hold of the dataset and looked at what people had done, and they found that a vast number of people commuted to work the same way every day. During the strike, they adapted. They found a different way, and a substantial minority of them never went back. So they realized - because of a 48-hour shutdown, they had been doing it wrong their entire lives. It was only when the disruption comes in and says - no, you can't do it your usual way; you have to find a new way - tens of thousands of people went, wow, actually, the new way's better. How many things do we do in our lives - not these soaring feats of creativity, just everyday situations - how many things do we do that, if we were forced to do it differently, we would never go back?This comment was edited on May 22, 2019, 17:58.
"Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times." - Those Who Remain by G. Michael Hopf