Thinking About Art Makes People Procrastinate

The Economist reports on a German study where psychologists tried to answer why people dawdle when put in front of an array of choices, basically why people procrastinate. A team of researchers led by Sean McCrea of the University of Konstanz, Germany, conducted several sets of this study, whereas the last one involved looking and pondering a copy of La Parade by Georges Seurat, the 19th-century French artist. Half of the test group in that set study was given information about pointillism, the technique Seurat used to create the impression of solid colours from small dots of paint. The others were told that the painting was an example of neo-impressionism in which the artist had used colour to evoke harmony and emotion. Both groups were then asked to rate the importance of colour in 13 other works of art.ron-mueck

What they found was that the abstract thinking slowed down the decisions and in many cases the test subjects did not complete the tasks that they were given at all. This piece of research could be a huge step toward recognizing the efforts of the creative class when it comes to abstract thinking and how to gauge it. Although, it is also important to rethink the curriculum in school through developmental psychology since the finding about the brain could implicate that we need more focus on creative, abstract thinking in school, not less. Tina Chappell-Sandberg has in her study on a contemporary art curriculum in elementary and middle school researched the goals of pedagogy in general (In Swedish):

…främja lärande där individen stimuleras att inhämta kunskaper … Eleven skall kunna orientera sig i en komplex verklighet med ett stort informationsflöde och en snabb förändringstakt …metoder att tillägna sig och använda ny kunskap blir därför viktiga.

It becomes clear that the above written goal stating that ”The student should be able to orient him/herself through a complex reality with large quantities of information” must consider the type of research on creativity and thinking conducted by Sean McCrea and others in order to gain a substantial position for tomorrow’s consciousness.

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