Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Mindlessness of Social Comparisons and its Effect on Creativity

For your intellectual consideration. For creative people, mindfulness protects against social comparison as well as being a person who does not take-in social comparison.

For the purposes of the study, they define mindlessness as follows:
Mindlessness is the thoughtless application of old ways of thinking to new situations without considering whether they are applicable. When engaging in social comparisons, little thought is given to the implicit choices one makes (or could make) regarding the particulars of the comparison and to the context-dependent nature of evaluations in general.
And they introduce mindfulness as follows:
Mindfulness presents a method for adopting a less evaluative mindset and for approaching situations with awareness of their conditionality. When mindful, we are actively noticing new things, which makes us more sensitive to context and perspective. When mindless, we rely on distinctions drawn in the past and thus remain blind to subtle changes in the situation (see Langer 1978, 1989, 1997, 2002; Langer & Moldoveau, 2000). If we mindfully viewed our tennis opponent, for example, we’d be more likely to notice that not every shot is (better/worse) than others, and that some parts of our performance are weaker or stronger than other parts, etc.
The article is available as a free download. By the way, Ellen Langer has written several books on mindfulness - her newest book is Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.

Ellen J. Langer
Harvard University

Laura Delizonna
Stanford University

Michael Pirson
Fordham University Schools of Business; Harvard University

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 68-74, May 2010

Social Comparisons are ubiquitous phenomenon, for some researchers the key to evolutionary survival, for others key to understanding depression. Anybody engaged in artistic endeavors understands the relevance comparisons play throughout the creative process. In this article we examine the downside of social comparisons, the mindlessness of social comparison, specifically for the creative process. When we make social comparisons we tend to (a) be oblivious to the fact that we are making choices, (b) accept at face value that the comparison is meaningful and not transitory, (c) be unaware of its context-dependent nature, and (d) mindlessly accept the criteria on which the evaluation was based. When we open these up to scrutiny, comparisons make less sense. Alternative criteria, alternative aspects of the behavior, and alternative meanings for the performance could lead to very different conclusions. Research conducted in the context of art creation showed reduced negative consequences of social comparing for performance perceptions after a mindfulness treatment. Trait mindfulness as measured by the LMS supported the conclusions. Mindful groups, whether trait or state, evaluated their performance similar to the no social comparison group and both were less affected in their performance evaluations than the mindless group that made social comparisons. These findings can support all those engaged in creative processes to buffer against the negative consequences of social comparisons.
Full Citation:
Langer, E.J., Delizonna, L. & Pirson, M. (2010, May). The Mindlessness of Social Comparisons and its Effect on Creativity (December 7, 2010). Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Vol. 4, No. 2: p. 68-74. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1721666

No comments: