If you think you missed out on creativity, there’s still a chance later in life

Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you can’t still be creative.

If you think your creativity light bulb faded with youth, there’s a chance it could flicker later in life, as new research suggests multiple cycles of creativity pop up in different stages of life.

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Research published in the journal De Economist focused on 31 Nobel Prize winners in Economics and found that those subjects reached two cycles of creativity in life: in their mid-20s and in their mid-50s.

“We believe what we found in this study isn’t limited to economics, but could apply to creativity more generally,” lead author Bruce Weinberg said in a press release.

The study examined the laureates’ peak through their influence in citations. If citations of the laureates’ work appeared more frequently in research papers, it meant it held more influential merit. Thus, it determined two types of creativity cycles in a person’s life.

Conceptual types “work deductively” by applying abstract principles, according to the study, and peaked in their mid-twenties. Experimental innovators “work inductively” and acquire from experience. Those types tend to reach their creative peak in their fifties, the research concluded.

Young and creative at heart

“Many people believe that creativity is exclusively associated with youth, but it really depends on what kind of creativity you’re talking about,” Weinberg said.

The study cites innovators like Pablo Picasso, T.S. Eliot and Albert Einstein as conceptual innovators who made their greatest achievements earlier in their lives. Others like Robert Frost and Charles Darwin could be seen as experimental innovators after achieving their hallmark works years after working.

“Our research suggests that when you’re most creative is less a product of the scientific field that you’re in and is more about how you approach the work you do,” said Weinberg.

The Ladders has offered suggestions on how to fight creativity blocks, which can stem from lack of sleep, emotional imbalance, and other stressors.

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