Creativity is a subjective concept, and there is no right or wrong way to measure or "score" one's creativity. Researchers have sought for years to devise a score, some sort of "creativity quotient" analogous to the intelligence quotient (IQ) test for intelligence. However, a standardized scale for creativity has not been adopted in a widespread use. Here we review contemporary strategies to quantify creativity and study this cognitive phenomenon.
On a high level, creativity can be broken up into two broad sub-domains: convergent thinking (linking, or converging, two separate concepts) and divergent thinking (being able to "think outside the box"). There are tests for both.
When evaluating creativity, both creative potential and creative achievement can be measured. Creative potential refers to what an individual is capable of achieving, and is usually measured by various tests for convergent and divergent thinking. Creative achievement refers to what an individual has accomplished with respect to creativity, and is commonly measured with self-report questionnaires.
Guilford's Alternative Uses Task3
Wallach and Kogan Test4
The Remote Associates Test (RAT)5
Adjective Check List
Verbal fluency task
Creative achievement is commonly measured by surveys and questionnaires that an individual fills out. These questionnaires ask pointed questions about the individual's achievements in various areas (e.g. literature, music, etc).
Although the physiological and genetic basis for creativity is not well understood, various pieces of evidence indicate that there may be a physiological basis for creativity, that it is not just a natural talent, or gift, ["doled out sparingly by the gods"]12. There have been various case reports of patients with dementia or psychosis who exibit greater creative qualities after onset of the disease.
Here are a couple of pieces of art produced by patients with dementia. Here's an example of a drawing from an Alzheimer's patient that "lacks visual precision but can show appealing use of color and form". Similarly, here's an example of figurines painted by a patient with frontotemporal dementia that exhibits a creative repeating pattern. Generally, such paintings are ["realistic or surrealistic without a significant symbolic or abstract component"]13.
In frontotemporal dementia, the frontotemporal lobe of the brain undergoes neuronal loss, leading to a variety of deficits including personality changes (behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia), impaired language (primary progressive aphasia), motor disturbances (as a part of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or progressive supranuclear palsy). There have been various documented cases of patients with frontotemporal dementia who exhibit creative potential (potentially due to greater activation of cortical networks that contribute to creativity).
It's been proposed that there is a link between psychosis and creativity. Studies have found that some schizophrenic or manic patients may exhibit [more creative qualities in their writing]14.
A study in 2011 on 300,000 people found that there was a higher likelihood for people with schizophrenia and bipoloar disorder to be in creative professions, compared to controls.
In a study of 117 individuals, [those with schizotypal traits (measured by the Abberation Scale or the Magical Ideation Scale) scored higher on the Domino Creativity Scale of the Adjective Check List]15.
A phenomenon known as [pradoxical functional facilitation]16illustrates the augmentation of brain functions in other areas of the brain after one area is damaged. This may involve bringing up a subnormal level of functioning up to a normal level, or augmenting the level of functioning to an above-normal level. It is possible that this effect plays a role in modulation of creativity in patients with neuropsychiatric conditions including dementia and psychosis.
Carson, S. H., Peterson, J. B., & Higgins, D. M. (2003). Decreased latent inhibition is associated with increased creative achievement in high-functioning individuals. J Pers Soc Psychol, 85(3), 499-506. doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2069
Vellante, M., Zucca, G., Preti, A., Sisti, D., Rocchi, M. B., Akiskal, K. K., & Akiskal, H. S. (2011). Creativity and affective temperaments in non-clinical professional artists: an empirical psychometric investigation. J Affect Disord, 135(1-3), 28-36. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2011.06.062
Silvia P.J., Wigert B., Reiter-Palmon R., Kaufman J.C. Assessing creativity with self-report scales: A review and empirical evaluation. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 2012;6:19_34.
Jauk, E., Benedek, M., Dunst, B., & Neubauer, A. C. (2013). The relationship between intelligence and creativity: New support for the threshold hypothesis by means of empirical breakpoint detection. Intelligence, 41(4), 212_221. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2013.03.003
Schuldberg, D., French, C., Stone, B. L., & Heberle, J. (1988). Creativity and schizotypal traits. Creativity test scores and perceptual aberration, magical ideation, and impulsive nonconformity. J Nerv Ment Dis, 176(11), 648-657.
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