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Some of the Latest Creativity Research

Originally reported on the now defunct Brainpower News Blog, here is some of the latest creativity research, starting with the question: is anger good for creative thinking?

Flickr photo by Allan Donque

Anger Good for Creativity?

Is anger good for creativity? Apparently not in the long run, but it does seem to give a boost to people early on in the brainstorming process according to a recent research paper.

As reported in an article in Scientific American;

This counterintuitive idea was pursued by researchers Matthijs Baas, Carsten De Dreu, and Bernard Nijstad in a series of studies recently published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. They found that angry people were more likely to be creative – though this advantage didn’t last for long, as the taxing nature of anger eventually leveled out creativity. This study joins several recent lines of research exploring the relative upside to anger – the ways in which anger is not only less harmful than typically assumed, but may even be helpful (though perhaps in small doses).

In an initial study, the researchers found that feeling angry was indeed associated with brainstorming in a more unstructured manner, consistent with “creative” problem solving. In a second study, the researchers first elicited anger from the study participants (or sadness, or a non-emotional state) and then asked them to engage in a brainstorming session in which they generated ideas to preserve and improve the environment. In the beginning of this task, angry participants generated more ideas (by volume) and generated more original ideas (those thought of by less than 1 percent or less of the other participants), compared to the other sad or non-emotional participants. However, this benefit was only present in the beginning of the task, and eventually, the angry participants generated only as many ideas as the other participants.

I suppose this is a good example of going where the evidence leads. I would not have though that anger was at all useful to the creative process, even in the short term. It seems that the energy boost that sometimes comes from an angry state is part of why there is increased creativity. But since the benefit is short-lived and not even measurable over a longer time period, I think I will stick to being at peace (to the extent that is possible), and look for my energy and motivation elsewhere.

Note: If you need someone to write a good research project for you, EffectivePapers offers research paper help on any recent topics.

Creativity Is Declining in the U.S.

Are we becoming less creative in the United States? You or I may not be, but there is now evidence that today's children are not as creative as previous generations. "Torrance's test" of creativity has been used since 1958 to evaluate the creative abilities of children, and although many psychologists will point out that there is no perfect measurement of creativity, these tests have been very predictive of future creative accomplishments.

Now researchers at the College of William & Mary have found that scores are dropping, as reported by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in a recent issue of Newsweek magazine. From their article, titled, The Creativity Crisis:

Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William and Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is "most serious."

Interestingly, while scores for creativity have been dropping, the opposite is true of IQ scores. These have continued to rise from generation to generation.


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