Schema Violations

"Several studies have shed light on the role of “schema violations” in intellectual development. A schema violation occurs when our world is turned upside-down, when temporal and spatial cues are off-kilter."


Mark Twain famously said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." When you leave your environment and see how other people live, it can broaden your perception of what's possible. 

Many of our cultural conventions are nothing more than socially-reinforced illusions. We all grow up surrounded by certain values and norms. These conditions shape our opinion of what is considered normal or natural. They create a mental schema in our minds, and sometimes we get defensive or offended if we encounter something that contradicts that schema.

So sometimes we just need to shake things up. It might do you some good to get lost in Tokyo or wander through the backstreets of Istanbul, getting exposed to cultures vastly different than your own.

But travel isn't the only way to expand your mind. Anything that challenges our internalized cultural framework for normality can benefit us. 

Schema violations can come in many forms. There are shows like 'Tim and Eric' that are largely ridiculous and nonsensical, but also possibly brilliant. They portray social situations in such crazy ways, that it might make you see things a little bit differently.

I think that having a high tolerance for eccentricity is important for creativity. We all need a little humility about our own inherent biases of what we consider to be normal.

Just because most people around you have done things a certain way for a long time, doesn't mean it has to be that way.

So let's celebrate diverse cultures, strange people, and silly shows. Anything that breaks us out of our conventions and biases can spark big ideas.