How dual-identity processes foster creativity

Małgorzata A. Gocłowska, Richard J. Crisp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (SciVal)


We propose a theoretical model explaining when and why possessing 2 inconsistent social identities can foster superior creativity. The framework describes how during cultural adaptation individuals (a) alternate their identities across contexts, (b) integrate elements of their distinct (i.e., remote and uncorrelated) identities, and, having formed cognitive and emotional links with the new group, (c) broaden their self-definition. We explain how these processes of cultural adaptation map onto 3 fundamental creative processes: (a) an ability to quickly and effortlessly switch between cognitive strategies and semantic categories, (b) an apparent ease in integrating distant and conflicting ideas, and finally, (c) the widening of one's creative idea base. Our model explains how the challenges involved in managing complex self-definitions enhance creativity, and increase potential for novel problem solutions. Understanding this dynamic brings a new perspective to debates on the value of diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-236
Number of pages21
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Acculturation
  • Cognition
  • Creativity
  • Diversity
  • Flexibility
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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