VSL:SCIENCE // The simplest way to solve complex problems

A new study suggests that if you’re faced with a particularly tough problem, taking a step backward improves your chances of solving it.

Severine Koch and his colleagues at Radboud University in the Netherlands had 38 subjects play a computerized word game. Before confronting each 12-word round, a subject would be asked to take one step backward or to one side. The subjects consistently worked faster and more accurately when they took a step backward rather than a step to one side (or no step at all). Koch suggests that the dynamic is rooted in an evolutionary impulse to retreat from complicated physical threats and assess them from a distance.

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VSL:SCIENCE // The simplest way to solve complex problems