Variation in Creativity and Imagination

How Stories make us Creative

Research team

Wojciech Małecki, Principal Investigator
Piotr Sorokowski, Co-Investigator
Maciej Karwowski, Co-Investigator
Marta Kowal, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Craig Roberts, Collaborator
Christine Caldwell, Collaborator


Key Information

Full title: Narrative as a Driver of Creativity in Cultural Evolution
Host institution: University of Wrocław (Poland)
Research locations: International (online), Papua New Guinea (in person)


Project overview 

We tend to think of narratives as products of creativity of their authors. But they can also boost creativity in their audience. Stories, after all — be they novels, movies, TV series, or video games — allow us to look at the world from a perspective we have previously not imagined. And this is precisely what we need in order to become creative, or to be able to find surprising new ways of dealing with our surroundings. In fact, there are good reasons to think that, across history, narratives have always acted as an important and inexhaustible engine of novelty, stimulating creative developments in morality, politics, science, and other areas of culture.

This project will provide a unique glimpse into that phenomenon. To this end, it will combine the perspectives of a variety of academic fields, including Cultural Evolution, literary studies, and psychology of creativity in conducting a series of six experiments. The experiments will involve thousands of participants from across the globe, who will read stories, tell stories, play video games, as well as compete with and learn from each other. In this way, the project will help explain how stories can make us both more creative and open to the creativity of others, and how that stimulates cultural change.


Project contact

If you would like to contact the project team, please email the grant management team in the first instance, at ces.transformationfund@durham.ac.uk.

Wojciech Małecki: Twitter