Climate and creativity: Cold and heat trigger invention and innovation in richer populations

Evert Van de Vliert, Damian R. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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Nobel laureates, technological pioneers, and innovative entrepreneurs are unequally distributed across the globe. Their density increases in regions toward the North Pole, toward the South Pole, and very close to the Equator. This geographic anomaly led us to explore whether stressful demands of climatic cold and climatic heat (imposed necessities) interact with economic wealth resources (available opportunities) in modulating creative culture—defined here as including
both inventive idea generation and innovative idea implementation. Controlling for societal intellectualization, industrialization, and urbanization, results indicated that higher thermal demands, primarily cold stress and secondarily heat stress, hinder creativity in poorer populations but promote creativity in richer populations. Complementing their direct wealth-dependent effects, colder and hotter temperatures also exert indirect wealth-dependent effects on creative
culture through lower prevalence of human-to-human transmitted parasitic diseases. Across 155 countries, the resulting ecotheory of creativity accounts for 79% of the variation in creative culture. The findings open up valuable perspectives on the creativity-related consequences of thermal climate—and climate change—in poor and rich populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalCreativity Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30-Jan-2018



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