You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license. New research examines what makes the people of Iceland so creative—and how the United States could adopt some of those factors.

By many international measures, Iceland is a leader in innovation and creativity in a number of fields, including design, music, art, and literature. Icelanders strongly dislike the idea that their unique natural environment is the source of creative inspiration.

Existing research “supported the idea that ability and personality attributes of Icelanders might be the source of Icelandic innovation, including open-mindedness,” find the researchers. Literature claiming “open and egalitarian families, innovation education curricula and free play, cultural support for creativity, and government policies” were drivers of innovation to be accurate, they report.

However, Icelanders don’t necessarily view themselves as more creative than others and strongly dislike the popular assertion that their unique natural environment is the source of creative inspiration. “We wanted to know more about cultures that support bringing ideas and taking products and creations to fruition,” says Barbara Kerr, professor of counseling psychology at the University of Kansas.

“We wanted to know what’s happening there.” The team conducted interviews with more than 15 Icelanders who work in a variety of creative occupations. They had a variety of ideas on why 1 in 10 adults in the country have published a book, why playing in a band is considered a rite of passage, and why nearly everyone knows how to knit and sew. Read more from…

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