For a number of critical thinking skills people need to decouple their thinking from their perception. Decoupling enables people to run simulations of alternative hypotheses, future outcomes, and events people haven’t witnessed themselves. A recent study1 have found a correlation between how good people in running simulations and how creative they are. The correlation goes in both ways: people who create vivid simulations are also good in creative tasks, also creative experts are better in creating simulations than a control group.
Keith Stanovich explains2 how decoupling from reality and running a simulation can help us make the most complicated decisions and envision the future. Basically we need to distance ourselves from the reality around us to mentally work on something else. It appears the same cognitive processes can help us to create new and valuable items.
There are probably more creativity exercises than critical thinking exercises and we probably can use some of them not only to improve creativity, but also to improve critical thinking. But these exercises should efficiently improve our ability to create what Meyer and colleagues call a distal simulation: a simulation of events and scenes temporarily, physically or emotionally very distant. For example imagining what will happen one hundred years in the future would be a distal simulation.
These exercises can also remove barriers to run such a simulation. We can check works like this 2 for possible obstacles, because useful exercises should remove or lessen the influence of some of them.
I imagine this could work in another way, if you improve your critical thinking skills somehow, you should be able to more easily run distal simulations thus increasing your creativity. But to be more successful in transferring this ability from a critical thinking area to an area of creativity we better have a good model of how things work and why it would help in both areas. Having a model could direct our efforts to correct points and thus more effective. An interesting idea I can infer is that as cognitive biases may prevent us to successfully start and maintain simulations, mitigating the effects of particular cognitive biases could improve one’s creativity.
1. ^ : Creative expertise is associated with transcending the here and now. ML Meyer, HE Hershfield, AG Waytz, JN Mildner, DI Tamir, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology - 2019
2. ^ : On the distinction between rationality and intelligence: Implications for understanding individual differences in reasoning. KE Stanovich - In K Holyoak, R Morrison (Eds.) (pp. 343-365), The Oxford handbook of thinking and reasoning, 2012.