Olga Khazan wrote an article for The Atlantic titled The Perks of Being a Weirdo: How not fitting in can lead to creative thinking.

« In fact, a body of social-science research suggests that being an oddball or a social reject can spark remarkable creativity. »

« An unusual childhood is not the only thing that can make you more creative. Being considered “weird” in your culture can also enhance an element of creativity called “integrative complexity.” People who are strong in integrative complexity tend to handle uncertainty well and excel at reconciling conflicting information. They’re often able to see problems from multiple perspectives. »

« Chris Crandall, a psychology professor at the University of Kansas, told me that people who are on the periphery of society tend to be freer to innovate and change social norms. “Fashion norms come from the bottom up,” he said. Outsiders are less concerned with what the in-crowd thinks of them, so they have more leeway to experiment. »

« Regardless, trying to think about your weirdness in a positive way—a process called cognitive reappraisal—can help you cope with the adversity that often comes with being an outlier. Reframing what makes you weird as being what gives you strength can, ultimately, make you happier. »

« Having just one person who broke with the majority reduced conformity among the responses by about 80 percent… Interestingly, they were less likely to conform even if the dissenter disagreed with the crowd but was still wrong. The dissenter appeared to give the participants permission to disagree. »

« When we hear a dissenting view, we think more critically about what’s being said, prompting a consideration of different sides of an issue. Majorities, meanwhile, spur us to think only about data that support the majority perspective. »

« Unfortunately, though, when people stop being “weird,” these benefits go away. When people who were once in the minority become the majority, research shows that they tend to become more closed-minded. »

Olga Khazan is author of  Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World.

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