When in Rome . . . learn why the Romans do what they do: How multicultural learning experiences facilitate creativity

William W. Maddux, Hajo Adam, Adam D. Galinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

131 Citations (Scopus)


Research suggests that living in and adapting to foreign cultures facilitates creativity. The current research investigated whether one aspect of the adaptation process-multicultural learning-is a critical component of increased creativity. Experiments 1-3 found that recalling a multicultural learning experience: (a) facilitates idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), (b) increases awareness of underlying connections and associations, and (c) helps overcome functional fixedness. Importantly, Experiments 2 and 3 specifically demonstrated that functional learning in a multicultural context (i.e., learning about the underlying meaning or function of behaviors in that context) is particularly important for facilitating creativity. Results showed that creativity was enhanced only when participants recalled a functional multicultural learning experience and only when participants had previously lived abroad. Overall, multicultural learning appears to be an important mechanism by which foreign living experiences lead to creative enhancement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-741
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
Early online date5 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • Adaptation
  • Creativity
  • Culture
  • Learning
  • Living abroad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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