On the science of creativity

The University of Chicago’s John Cacioppo … has helped pioneer research that shows how social connection shapes everything from depression and anxiety to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.

Drawing on evolutionary psychology, cognitive experiments, and brain scans, Cacioppo and his colleagues make a persuasive case that what we consider the “self” is in its essence social.

It’s not an accident that this new work is ascendant at a time when the Western world no longer identifies itself in opposition to collectivism, and where the Internet and social media have offered an obvious metaphor for webs of connections. …

The shift in understanding creativity is well underway. The stereotypes of miraculous breakthrough moments — and the incessant drive to locate them in the head of epic individuals  — are slowly yielding to a portrait of complex, meandering, inherently social paths toward innovation.  … As Fitzgerald declared, the test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two opposing ideas without cracking up.