Science Says Travel Makes You Smarter, So Pack Your Bags Right This Instant

Man walks across Russian Lake Baikal while traveling because he is an intelligent individual
Twenty20 / @batoshka

It’s no surprise that traveling keeps you open-minded to new cultures and ideas. After all, you can’t just spend two weeks abroad and not learn anything about different countries and their customs, or even your own. But did you know traveling actually makes you smarter? According to this study, that may be the case.

In a study led by William W. Maddux, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, researchers found there was a link between multicultural engagement and integrative complexity (in other words, the capacity to hold conflicting perspectives on the same subject). Basically, the more likely a person is to engage with new cultures and ideas, the more likely they’ll be able to look at the same problem from different viewpoints at the same time, giving them a perspective those who haven’t traveled don’t have.

But it doesn’t just end there. People who traveled more and engaged multiculturally were more likely to receive job offers than those who hadn’t. “This study demonstrates that even when individuals are exposed to the same multicultural environment, it is their psychological approach and engagement with different cultures that determines growth in integrative complexity and tangible increases in professional opportunities,” Maddox wrote. Basically, opening yourself up to travel opportunities might also open you up to job opportunities in the future, which is just another reason to pull out your passport and finally book those tickets.

Unsurprisingly, in earlier studies, Maddox also found that traveling boosts creativity. After administering a remote association test to his students, he found that those who were primed with thoughts of living abroad solved 50 percent more problems than their counterparts. Basically, students who adapted to foreign situations had higher creative enhancement and were better problem solvers in this aspect.

So, it’s settled then! Pack your bags, choose your location, and get going. Bon voyage! TC mark

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