Creative beginnings

Newsweek has an eye-opening article on creativity which doesn’t really discuss why creativity is supposedly ‘declining’, as it claims, but is still full of fascinating and counter-intuitive snapshots of creativity research.

I have to say, I’m not very familiar with the scientific research on creativity, so I can’t say how well the article represents it as a whole, however, it does capture lots of interesting angles on creativity I’d not encountered before.

Nobody would argue that Torrance’s tasks, which have become the gold standard in creativity assessment, measure creativity perfectly. What’s shocking is how incredibly well Torrance’s creativity index predicted those kids’ creative accomplishments as adults. Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance’s data. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

There’s a few throwaway lines that bugged me (“Normally, the r-TPJ reads incoming stimuli” – not without the rest of the brain it doesn’t; “One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames” – evidence? none) but its generally a well written piece that integrates both neuroscience and psychology studies into a compelling exploration of what it means to think creatively.

UPDATE: Ashley Merryman, one of the authors of the Newsweek piece got in touch to say that there is some evidence on children’s TV viewing and creativity – finding that more time spent spent watching TV correlates with less creativity, although we still don’t have the evidence to say whether this is cause or effect.

Link to Newsweek article ‘The Creativity Crisis’.

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