A new study into creative thinking and problem solving has come up with some startling findings into what limits people’s ability to be imaginative.

The next time someone says there’s a lack of creativity in society, look them in the eye and say, “It’s because of size.”

Yes, the size of your office space, or lack of it may hinder creativity. Scientists from the US and China recently conducted an experiment that had volunteers sit inside or outside a box measuring five feet by five feet. The environments were identical for all volunteers. The study is published in the journal, Psychological Science.

What was discovered is that those volunteers who sat outside the box were more creative in their thinking. To measure this creativity, all volunteers were given two tasks, one of them to put together the halves of cut drink coasters.

The scientists also discovered that when people were allowed to “walk freely” aka, wander, they generated more ideas than when they had to walk in a straight line.

In a statement, Dr. Angela Leung of Singapore Management University said, “Creativity is a highly sought-after skill. Metaphors of creative thinking abound in everyday use. Our experiments demonstrated for the first time some metaphors work by activating psychological processes conducive for generating previously unknown and therefore creative ideas.’

This gives the term, “Think outside the box,” quite a literal meaning. Have you ever felt your creativity helped or hindered by your working environment? Share your thoughts with us.