Priming of spatial distance enhances children's creative performance

J Exp Child Psychol. 2012 Apr;111(4):663-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


According to construal level theory, psychological distance promotes more abstract thought. Theories of creativity, in turn, suggest that abstract thought promotes creativity. Based on these lines of theorizing, we predicted that spatial distancing would enhance creative performance in elementary school children. To test this prediction, we primed spatial distance by presenting 6- to 9-year-olds with pictures of increasingly distal objects (from their own desk to the galaxy) or increasingly proximal objects (from the galaxy to their own desk) and then assessed the fluency and originality of their ideas in a creativity test. We found, consistent with the hypothesis, that after priming of spatial distance, compared with priming of spatial proximity, children were more creative, as reflected in higher scores of both fluency and originality. This result was not qualified by children's age or gender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Creativity*
  • Cues*
  • Distance Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychological Theory
  • Spatial Behavior
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Thinking / physiology*