Let’s play a quick game: as fast as you can, what action comes to mind when you look at the picture that heads this article? When you saw this chair, did you think “sit”? A Yale University study shows that you’re probably more creative if you said “stand” – the “distance” between a given noun and the verb you pair with it is a darn good measure of your overall creativity.
The study, published in the journal Behavior Research Methods, is pretty straightforward. It had 193 people take two tests: first, a traditional test of creativity and then a test that included 72 of these noun-verb pairs. Sure enough “distance” in noun-verb pairs matched scores on traditional creativity tests. (They had subjects take a couple more tests, too, to rule out explanations other than creativity.)