I have never thought that so-called “psychological distance” can affect our creative thinking. The most recent studies on creativity suggest that creativity is not just a personality trait, but “may also change depending on the situation and context.” The psychological distance is one of those situations, which encourage creativity. According to Shapira and Liberman’s (2009) article Why thinking about distant things can make us more creative, anything that we do not experience as occurring now, here, and to ourselves falls into the “psychologically distant” category. It’s also possible to induce a state of “psychological distance” simply by changing the way we think about a particular problem, such as attempting to take another person’s perspective, or by thinking of the question as if it were unreal and unlikely.” The authors suggest that if we are “stuck on a problem that seems impossible” instead of giving up we “gain a little psychological distance, and pretend the problem came from somewhere very far away.” I believe in a classroom setting, we should encourage our students to pretend and imagine such a distance in space and time and enjoy the process of creative thinking.
Shapira, O. & Liberman, N. (2009). Why thinking about distant things can make us more creative. Creativity. Scientific American.