Research Bulletin: How Children Make Sense of Impossible Events in Fiction

Posted by Guneet Daid | OnFiction: The Psychology of Fiction | Monday, 14 September 2015

“Preschoolers can Infer General Rules Governing Fantastical Events in Fiction,” by J.W. Van de Vondervoort and O. Friedman

This is an interesting article, by Guneet Daid, from OnFiction, about a study, “Preschoolers can Infer General Rules Governing Fantastical Events in Fiction,” by J.W. Van de Vondervoort and O. Friedman, that reveals the ability of children to easily differentiate between fantasy and reality. Continue reading . . .

When Desperate, Flip


Shifting perspective on a challenge, the framing of it, can lead to some great insights and ideas.

When truly desperate to get out of the box, one creative tool is to turn the challenge upside down, inside out, or “flip it.”

A former business partner of mine saved our medical software start-up from disaster using this technique. He said “if we can’t sell software to doctors, why don’t we buy the doctors?” Of course we all thought he’d had something to smoke on the way into the office, and we all slammed the idea the instant it came out of his mouth. On further reflection, it was brilliant, and we changed course rather dramatically. His idea, his flip of the problem frame, led directly to our IPO in 1996.

For real world examples, check out Marelisa Fábrega‘s posts, on the Abundance Blog.

A fellow blogger in the creativity space posted a great piece on this concept with several real world examples, check out the Abundance Blog. I like a lot of Marelisa Fábrega‘s posts, this one related to the concept of reversals, or flips, is a particularly good one. She talks about reversals in the context of the TRIZ methodology (and TRIZ is a lot more than just reversals or flips). Now, you can do a flip without knowing TRIZ, but her short intro on the method is worth the read.

Think of a current challenge and try to turn it on its head. It’s a great way to stretch your thinking.

TRIZ is “a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature”. 
It was developed by the Soviet inventor and science fiction author Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues, beginning in 1946. In English the name is typically rendered as “the theory of inventive problem solving“, and occasionally goes by the English acronym TIPS.



Gregg Fraley

Gregg Fraley

Gregg Fraley is an author, speaker, and Chief Solver of London based KILN. KILN offers innovation services, including IdeaKeg, a subscription service for innovation teams. Gregg is an experienced innovation process facilitator; his customers include prominent brands like American Crew, Budweiser, and Nestlé Purina. He’s the author of “Jack’s Notebook,” a well-reviewed business fable related to innovation and structured creative problem solving. Jack’s Notebook is used by business schools like U of C Berkeley and St. John’s University, but more importantly it’s been used by thousands of people form all walks of life to amplify their own creativity. Gregg had a 20 year career in the software industry. His earlier experiences included work in advertising, journalism, and interactive television. Avocations include stand-up comedy, cartooning, and improvisation.

Connect with Gregg
Blog | Twitter: @greggfraley

About Kiln Ideas, Ltd.
Kiln is an innovation products and services company that “fires up corporate innovation.” Kiln is part cultural scanning, part self-drive creative idea generation, complimented by hands-on facilitation and innovation training services. Kiln allows companies to stay tuned to trends, while speeding up the front end of innovation. IdeaKeg™ is their new subscription service than offers innovation teams a kinesthetic experience where objects related to current trends are mashed up with business objectives. This stimulates better questions and generates better, more breakthrough, ideas for new business concepts.

Connect with Gregg at Kiln Ideas, Ltd.
Web Site | Twitter: @kilnco | LinkdIn



Jack's Notebook

Jack's Notebook

If you want to start into more advanced creativity practice, you might consider my book – Jack’s Notebook, a business novel about creative problem solving. It’s done in story form, this is not your typical didactic business book!


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How Gender Roles Crush Creativity


Photo: Flickruser (George Eastman House), Creative Commons 2.0

The recent firestorm surrounding the J Crew ad (also included below) that showed a mom painting her son’s toenails hot pink appalled me. Set aside the repulsive homophobia—Ms. Lyons, one naysayer complained, is “exploiting [her son] Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics”—really? Never mind feminist politics—would these same critics be appalled by a photo of a five-year-old girl collecting rocks or digging up worms? I doubt it.

As an artist, I’m aghast.

Creativity demands that we stretch boundaries, break rules. William James said, “genius . . . means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.”

As writers and artists, we rack our brain trying to figure out how to “perceive in an unhabitual way,” break out of habit, loosen inhibitions, free our minds of all the nasty, judgmental detritus. We play tricks on ourselves—read, meditate, listen to music. Some drink or use drugs. With all these activities, healthy or not, we attempt to escape the restrictions forced upon us by our upbringing, our education, by a world that distrusts the original, disparages rule-breakers.

Creativity demands that we stretch boundaries, break rules.

Rules are necessary, of course. Civilizations require adequate means of controlling their citizens. Without rules to prohibit rape, thievery, murder, we’d live in mayhem, in constant fear for our lives. Yet rules can also be arbitrary, the product of superstition, outmoded beliefs. For thousands of years, people associated left-handedness with the Devil. My kindergarten teacher had this rule, demonstrated rather than spoken: you wrote, cut, and colored with your right hand. By implication, without ever aggressively trying, she transformed me, a natural leftie, into a right-hander—no big deal, except that it set me up for a lifetime of directional confusion. Not all rules are righteous or good.

For artists and writers, rules create structure. They provide a way to frame our ideas, give us a place to begin. Following rules helps to eliminate confusion, ambiguity. For patrons or readers, rules serve as a guide; they provide accessibility, offer a way in, a means of understanding the work. Strict adherence to form, though in certain ways restrictive, can produce works of great beauty. Creativity, originality, though—this demands a break from the rules.

Why can’t an American boy have painted toenails? What’s the big deal? Egyptian men applied henna to their fingernails as a cosmetic. In 19th century Afghanistan, hennaed fingernails were a sign of victory and prestige. Or is the real problem, the detail that drove the detractors so crazy, that Ms. Lyons painted her son’s toenails hot pink?

Circumscribed gender roles—among the most stereotypical and arbitrary of rules—put kids in a box. Reining kids in—forcing adherence to arbitrary roles for the sake of social acceptance—bridles their imagination, teaches them to conform. If we hope to foster creativity in our children, we need to give them room to breathe, space to imagine.

We need to let them dig up their worms. Or paint their nails pink.


Terri Long


Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel In Leah’s Wake. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when In Leah’s Wake hit the

Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’ s enjoyed!

Connect with Terri
She blogs about writing and the writing life at
Facebook | Twitter: @tglong


In Leah's Wake

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