On the Cognitive Benefits of Cultural Experience: Exploring the Relationship between Studying Abroad and Creative Thinking

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Applied Cognitive Psychology




Drawing from research that shows a positive relationship between multicultural experiences and creative cognition, the present study investigates creative thinking as a possible cognitive benefit gained from studying abroad. The domain generality and specificity of creative thinking is also explored. Undergraduate students completed a general measure and a culture specific measure of creative thinking. Performance on the two creative thinking tasks were compared between students who have studied abroad, students who are planning to study abroad, and students who have not and do not plan to study abroad. Results showed that students who studied abroad outperformed the two groups of students who did not study abroad on both the general and culture specific measures of creative thinking. Findings from this study provide evidence that studying abroad supports complex cognitive processes that underlie creative thinking in culture specific and domain general settings