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Can Creativity be Measured? An Attempt to Clarify the Notion of Creativity and General Directions for Future Research

Authors:
  • Ulster Institute for Social Research

Abstract

The goal of this investigation is to demonstrate that much of the confusion regarding the measurement of creativity is caused by the insufficient clarity of its definition and to provide suggestions for an improved assessment and new possible tools of investigation (e.g. interviews).It is shown that three dimensions of creativity (novelty, appropriateness and impact) constitute a framework within which creativity can be defined and measured.Further clarity to the definition of creativity is added by distinguishing between person's and product's creativity and providing definitions for each.Based on this new definition, it is argued that Divergent Thinking, Remote Associates or some personality scales can be considered neither the only components of the creative process/cognition/potential nor “creativity tests”. The use of the terms “creativity test” and “measure of creative process” in the literature are criticized and it is indicated when they should be used.It is also shown that claims to have found a general factor of creativity are based on methodological and conceptual errors.Finally it is concluded that a person's creativity can only be assessed indirectly (for example with self report questionnaires or official external recognition) but it cannot be measured directly.
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Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264
Contents
lists
available
at
SciVerse
ScienceDirect
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
j
o
ur
nal
homep
age
:
http://www.elsevier.com/locate/tsc
Keynote
Can
creativity
be
measured?
An
attempt
to
clarify
the
notion
of
creativity
and
general
directions
for
future
research
Davide
Piffer
Università
degli
Studi
di
Firenze,
Dipartimento
di
Biologia
Evoluzionistica,
Laboratori
di
Antropologia,
Via
del
Proconsolo,
12,
Firenze,
Italy
a
r
t
i
c
l
e
i
n
f
o
Article
history:
Received
19
December
2011
Received
in
revised
form
31
March
2012
Accepted
25
April
2012
Available online 4 May 2012
Keywords:
Creativity
Divergent
thinking
Creativity
tests
a
b
s
t
r
a
c
t
The
goal
of
this
investigation
is
to
demonstrate
that
much
of
the
confusion
regarding
the
measurement
of
creativity
is
caused
by
the
insufficient
clarity
of
its
definition
and
to
pro-
vide
suggestions
for
an
improved
assessment
and
new
possible
tools
of
investigation
(e.g.
interviews).
It
is
shown
that
three
dimensions
of
creativity
(novelty,
appropriateness
and
impact)
constitute
a
framework
within
which
creativity
can
be
defined
and
measured.
Further
clarity
to
the
definition
of
creativity
is
added
by
distinguishing
between
person’s
and
product’s
creativity
and
providing
definitions
for
each.
Based
on
this
new
definition,
it
is
argued
that
Divergent
Thinking,
Remote
Associates
or
some
personality
scales
can
be
considered
neither
the
only
components
of
the
creative
process/cognition/potential
nor
“creativity
tests”.
The
use
of
the
terms
“creativity
test”
and
“measure
of
creative
process”
in
the
literature
are
criticized
and
it
is
indicated
when
they
should
be
used.
It
is
also
shown
that
claims
to
have
found
a
general
factor
of
creativity
are
based
on
methodological
and
conceptual
errors.
Finally
it
is
concluded
that
a
person’s
creativity
can
only
be
assessed
indirectly
(for
example
with
self
report
questionnaires
or
official
external
recognition)
but
it
cannot
be
measured
directly.
© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1.
Introduction
Mayer’s
(1999)
review
of
seven
definitions
given
by
authors
contributing
to
the
1999
‘Handbook
of
Creativity’
(Sternberg,
1999),
provided
the
following
definition
of
creativity:
“[.
.
.]creation
of
new
and
useful
products
including
ideas
as
well
as
concrete
objects.”
A
more
recent,
albeit
unsystematic,
review
has
confirmed
the
importance
of
this
definition
(Andreasen,
2005).
A
product
which
is
useful
but
not
novel
(a
car
might
be
judged
novel
in
an
ancient
civilization
but
not
in
the
contemporary
one),
or
novel
but
not
useful
(e.g.
bizarre
or
schizophrenic
ideas)
cannot
be
considered
creative.
However,
judgments
of
novelty
or
usefulness
are
inevitably
subjective
and
depend
on
the
culture
and
the
historical
period.
The
criteria
of
usefulness
become
inadequate
in
the
context
of
artistic
creativity.
Thus,
the
definition
has
sometimes
been
expanded
to
include
the
concept
of
beauty
(Arden,
Chavez,
Grazioplene,
&
Jung,
2010).
Another
concept,
named
appropriateness,
has
been
introduced
to
account
for
products
that
are
creative
but
not
useful
in
a
strict
sense.
This
concept
is
part
of
a
prominent
definition
of
creativity
(Zeng,
Proctor,
&
Salvendy,
2011).
The
notion
of
appropriateness
“evokes
people’s
intention
to
purchase,
adopt,
Corresponding
author.
Tel.:
+39
347
0916177.
E-mail
address:
davidepiffer@libero.it
1871-1871/$
see
front
matter ©
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2012.04.009
Author's personal copy
D.
Piffer
/
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264 259
use,
and
appreciate”
a
(creative)
product.
Therefore,
appropriateness
incorporates
the
concept
of
usefulness
but
goes
beyond
it,
allowing
one
to
regard
as
creative
certain
products
(such
as
art)
that
are
not
useful
in
the
strict
sense.
Indeed,
judgments
about
a
product’s
creativity
depend
on
the
recognition
by
a
community
of
experts
(as
in
science,
the
visual
arts
or
classical
music)
or
by
the
general
population
(as
in
popular
art,
commercial
products).
Another
aspect
that
emerges
in
discussions
of
creativity
is
that
of
impact
or
influence
(e.g.
Csikszentmihalyi,
1996;
Simonton,
1994,
2004).
The
notion
of
appropriateness
is
similar
to
but
must
not
be
confused
with
the
notion
of
influence
or
impact
of
a
product.
Appropriateness
is
different
from
impact
as
the
former
indicates
agreement
among
the
public
or
the
community
of
experts
about
a
product’s
creativity,
whereas
the
latter
indicates
the
extent
to
which
an
idea
changes
a
particular
domain,
as
reflected
in
this
definition
of
creativity:
“Creativity
is
any
act,
idea,
or
product
that
changes
an
existing
domain,
or
that
transforms
an
existing
domain
into
a
new
one”
(Csikszentmihalyi,
1996).
The
traditional
distinction
between
Big-c
and
little-c
creativity
highlights
the
importance
of
this
concept.
The
first
is
synonymous
with
eminent
creativity
and
is
usually
believed
to
be
limited
to
well-known
creators
or
renowned
individuals.
Little-c,
or
everyday
creativity,
consists
of
the
creative
activities
in
which
people
might
participate
each
day
and
is
found
across
all
the
demographic
spectrum,
from
college
students
to
children
(Kaufman
&
Beghetto,
2009).
Kaufman
and
Beghetto
(2009)
introduced
the
four
C
model
of
creativity,
providing
many
concrete
examples
that
certainly
fit
with
our
commonsensical
grasp
of
the
different
levels
of
creativity.
However
in
my
opinion,
this
classification
is
not
based
on
a
solid
theory
but
relies
on
anecdotal
and
intuitive
examples
(e.g.
big-C
creativity
is
not
properly
defined
but
is
illustrated
with
examples
of
eminent
classical
and
opera
composers,
Nobel
prize
winners
and
revolutionary
scientists;
similarly,
the
definition
of
pro-C
is
very
pragmatic
“anyone
who
attains
professional
level
expertise
in
any
creative
area”
(Kaufman
&
Beghetto,
2009).
I
would
argue
that
the
third
dimension
of
creativity
(impact)
provides
a
more
general
yet
parsimonious
perspective
to
the
classification
into
two
or
four
types
of
creativity,
which
can
be
seen
as
lying
on
a
continuum
from
null
to
great,
lasting
contribution/impact
to
a
field.
For
example,
in
Kaufman
and
Beghetto’s
Four
C
model
(2009)
mini-c
creativity
could
be
seen
as
comprising
all
creative
activities
which
are
novel
and
useful,
whilst
having
little
of
or
lacking
the
third
factor,
that
is
the
property
of
leaving
a
mark
on
the
field
or
changing
the
culture.
Indeed,
Kaufman
and
Beghetto
(2009)
conceptualize
mini-c
as
the
set
of
intrapersonal
insights
and
interpretations,
which
often
live
only
within
the
person
that
created
them”.
Thus
both
the
review
of
definitions
of
creativity
and
the
four
C
model
acknowledge
that
novelty
and
usefulness
are
common
to
all
creativity
levels,
whereas
impact
is
not
a
necessary
precondition
(its
absence
is
normal
at
the
level
of
little
or
mini-c
creativity)
for
creativity.
2.
A
new
definition
of
creativity
What
has
been
given
so
far
is
a
definition
of
“creativity”
but
it
is
clear
that
it
is
more
relevant
to
products
than
to
people,
even
though
it
does
not
explicitly
refer
to
either
of
the
two.
Sometimes
(but
rarely)
the
definition
explicitly
encapsulates
both
person
and
product.
Thus,
in
Zeng
et
al.
(2011)
“creativity
is
broadly
defined
as
the
goal-oriented
individual/team
cognitive
process
that
results
in
a
product
(idea,
solution,
service,
etc.)
that,
being
judged
as
novel
and
appropriate,
evokes
people’s
intention
to
purchase,
adopt,
use,
and
appreciate
it.”
However,
with
such
a
broad
definition,
one
is
at
a
loss
as
to
how
creativity
could
be
measured.
Should
we
measure
the
creativity
of
the
person
or
of
the
product?
How
do
we
measure
them?
Indeed,
not
enough
effort
has
been
spent
on
clarifying
the
important
distinction
between
person’s
and
product’s
creativity,
as
they
are
usually
(either
explicitly
or
implicitly)
lumped
together.
In
fact,
researchers
are
interested
as
much
in
creative
products
as
in
creative
people.
What
is,
then,
a
creative
person?
To
the
best
of
my
knowledge,
no
clear
and
precise
answer
to
this
simple
question
has
been
provided
in
the
literature.
I
regard
a
person’s
creativity
as
the
total
sum
of
the
creativity
of
the
products
that
he/she
has
generated.
Thus,
I
argue
that
the
definition
of
creativity
corresponds
to
that
of
creative
achievement.
I
assume
that
a
product’s
creativity
is
a
continuous
rather
than
a
categorical
variable
(a
product
is
not
simply
either
creative
or
not
but
it
can
be
more
or
less
creative
than
another
product).
Thus,
a
product’s
creativity
depends
on
the
degree
to
which
it
is
useful/appropriate,
influential
and
novel.
Let
a,
b,
c,
.
.
.,
i
be
the
creative
products.
Let
each
creative
product
have
a
creativity
score
0
<
z
<
infinite.
Let
Za,
Zb,
Zc,
.
.
.,
Zi,
be
the
creativity
scores
of
the
different
products.
The
sum
of
the
creativity
scores
(Za
+
Zb
+
Zc
+
·
·
·
+
Zi)
of
all
the
products
generated
by
a
person
represents
that
person’s
creativity.
This
notion
needs
to
be
separated
from
that
of
creative
potential.
I
argue
that
the
latter
represents
a
broad
set
of
variables
that
participate
in
generating
a
creative
product.
Creative
cognition
and
creative
personality
are
subsets
of
one’s
creative
potential.
The
latter
includes
also
biographical
factors,
genetic
and
epigenetic
influences,
psychopathological
traits
(Feist,
2010).
Creative
cognition
can
perhaps
best
be
defined
as
the
set
of
cognitive
traits
that
concur
in
the
process
of
generation
of
a
creative
product.
Creative
personality
is
a
set
of
personality
variables
that
are
commonly
found
among
creators
and
are
thought
to
influence
a
person’s
creativity
(Feist,
1998).
For
the
sake
of
clarity
it
must
be
briefly
mentioned
that
another
important
field
of
creativity
research
is
concerned
with
the
creative
process.
This
realm
of
inquiry
generally
belongs
to
cognitive
psychology
and
is
thus
based
on
an
experimental
rather
than
a
correlational
approach.
The
majority
of
issues
referred
to
in
this
paper
fall
within
the
realm
of
differential
psychology.
However,
I
believe
that
experimental
research
could
benefit
from
considering
the
solutions
proposed
in
the
present
article.
Author's personal copy
260 D.
Piffer
/
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264
I
admit
that
the
definition
of
creativity
proposed
here
breaks
with
the
popular
perception.
In
folk
psychology,
people
with
certain
personality
and
cognitive
traits
(e.g.
original,
even
bizarre
thoughts
and
behavior,
and
a
more
active
imagination)
are
generally
considered
as
more
creative
than
people
who
display
less
of
these
characteristics.
This
is
likely
why
tests
of
divergent
thinking
(DT)
or
the
Creative
Personality
Scale
(Gough,
1979)
have
occupied
such
a
prominent
position
as
to
finally
become
synonymous
with
creativity.
There
are
important
reasons
why
scientific
psychology
cannot
adopt
intact
the
popular
perception
of
creativity:
1.
There
are
already
simpler
and
more
clearly
defined
concepts,
such
as
“originality”,
“openness
to
experience”,
“divergent
thinking”,
“schizotypal
personality”
that
define
each
of
these
characteristics.
It
is
preferable
to
use
simpler
concepts
when
they
describe
a
phenomenon
as
well
or
better
than
more
complex
concepts.
2.
These
concepts
describe
clearly
distinct
constructs.
3. The
use
of
each
of
these
constructs
as
a
criterion
measure
of
creativity,
such
as
happened
with
RAT
(Domino,
Walsh,
Reznikoff,
&
Honeyman,
1976)
and
Divergent
Thinking
(Furnham
&
Nederstrom,
2010),
has
never
proceeded
from
a
robust
theory
or
definition
of
creativity.
4. Empirical
studies
supported
by
theory
have
revealed
that
more
conventional
thought
processes
(e.g.
convergent
thinking)
are
required
for
creativity
(e.g.
the
creation
of
novel
and
useful
products)
(Cropley,
2006).
5.
Finally,
a
clear,
rigorous
definition
of
a
concept
is
necessary
for
any
theoretical
and
empirical
advancement
of
a
given
field.
Research
that
is
based
upon
a
fuzzy,
intuitive
perception
of
a
phenomenon
based
on
popular
stereotypes
cannot
yield
interpretable
results.
Instead,
plenty
of
contradictions
and
problems
emerge
(e.g.
controversy
on
the
threshold
theory;
the
difficulty
of
finding
a
general
creativity
factor
similar
to
g
for
general
intelligence
and
the
disappointing
results
of
neuroimaging
studies).
3.
Do
creativity
tests
really
exist?
In
Section
1,
I
provided
a
general
picture
of
the
definition
of
creativity
that
emerges
from
a
review
of
the
relevant
psychological
literature.
Given
the
prominent
role
played
by
DT
tests
in
the
assessment
and
discussion
of
creativity,
it
is
necessary
to
determine
whether
they
deserve
the
great
status
they
received
in
light
of
the
new
proposed
definition
of
creativity.
Divergent
thinking
tests
(e.g.
Guilford’s,
1967;
Torrance,
1974;
Wallach
&
Kogan,
1965)
are
different
from
traditional
intelligence
tests
in
that
they
demand
not
one
right
answer,
but
as
many
different
responses
as
possible.
The
responses
are
then
scored
on
objective
scales,
usually
fluency
(number
of
responses),
flexibility
(number
of
different
categories),
originality
(statistical
frequency
of
the
answers)
and
elaboration
(amount
of
details
given).
Often
in
published
papers,
DT
tests
are
considered
a
measure
of
“creativity”.
Sometimes,
they
are
more
“carefully”
called
“tests
of
creative
process”
(Torrance,
1988).
Yet,
according
to
our
definition
of
person’s
or
product’s
creativity,
DT
tests
cannot
be
considered
measures
of
creativity,
as
they
neither
assess
one’s
lifetime
creative
output
(person’s
creativity)
nor
the
creativity
of
a
product
(answers
to
DT
tests
are
not
creative
products
but
rather
ideas
that,
after
selection
and
elaboration,
could
lead
to
creative
products).
At
best,
they
can
be
considered
a
measure
of
creative
potential,
or
cognition/process.
But
we
will
briefly
see
that
even
in
this
case,
caution
should
be
taken.
A
few
examples
taken
from
the
literature
on
creativity
shall
suffice
to
illustrate
the
misuse
of
the
term.
The
name
of
the
most
popular
“creativity
test”,
the
Torrance
Test
of
Creative
Thinking,
is
exemplar.
Its
name
suggests
that
other
cognitive
tests
(e.g.
Working
memory
tests,
general
knowledge,
IQ
tests)
are
not
tests
of
creative
thinking.
And
this
can
be
misleading
because
convergent
thinking
is
as
important
for
creativity
as
divergent
thinking.
Creative
production
is
as
much
based
on
knowledge
and
analytical
thinking
as
on
imagination
and
divergent
thinking
(Cropley,
2006;
Gabora
&
Kaufman,
2010).
Yet,
unfortunately
this
confusion
continues
to
plague
even
the
most
recent
literature
on
creativity.
In
Plucker
and
Makel
(2010),
the
terms
“creativity
test”,
“tests
of
creativity”,
“psychometric
measurement
of
creative
process”
are
used
7
times.
At
least
twice,
these
terms
are
implied
to
be
equivalent
to
DT
tests.
For
example:
“Although
psychometric
test
of
creativity
may
lack
evidence
of
predictive
validity,
researchers
have
suggested
several
possible
reasons
for
DT
tests’
perceived
weaknesses”
(p.
54);
“However,
one
important
caveat
is
that
it
is
not
universally
accepted
that
psychometric
measures
of
creative
process
have
poor
predictive
power.
In
fact,
several
studies
provide
at
least
limited
evidence
of
discriminant
and
predictive
validity
for
DT
tests”
(p.
54).
“A
final
concern
with
the
psychometric
measurement
of
creative
processes
involves
how
these
batteries
are
typically
scored.
There
is
some
evidence
that
alternatives
to
the
traditional
frequency
tabulations
of
fluency,
flexibility,
originality
and
elaboration
should
be
considered”
(p.
55).
I
think
that
there
is
nothing
wrong
with
regarding
DT
tests
as
measures
of
creative
process.
However,
the
same
term
should
then
be
applied
to
all
cognitive
tests
that
can
potentially
lead
to
a
creative
solution.
Since
other
cognitive
variables
(e.g.
long
term
memory,
working
memory,
etc.)
take
part
in
the
creative
process,
then
the
tests
that
measure
them
should
also
be
called
tests
of
creative
process.
The
supposed
equivalence
between
DT
tests
and
creativity
is
most
evident
in
the
proposed
Creativity
Quotient
by
Snyder,
Mitchell,
Bossomaier,
&
Pallier
(2004).
Other
recent
papers
show
the
dramatic
confusion
creativity
researchers
are
in.
An
example
is
the
title
of
a
widely
cited
paper,
such
as
“Can
We
Trust
Creativity
Tests?
A
Review
of
the
Torrance
Tests
of
Creative
Thinking
(TTCT)”
(Kim,
2006).
Another
paper
by
Kim
shows
the
same
confusion.
In
“Can
only
intelligent
people
be
creative?”
(Kim,
2005),
she
presents
Author's personal copy
D.
Piffer
/
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264 261
a
“quantitative
review
of
the
relationship
between
creativity
test
scores
and
IQ
scores”.
In
this
study,
creativity
tests
are
Guilford’s,
the
omnipresent
TTCT,
Wallach–Kogan.
Again,
creativity
is
equated
with
scores
on
DT
tests.
In
“Ability,
demographic
and
personality
predictors
of
creativity”
(Furnham
&
Nederstrom,
2010),
as
suggested
by
the
title
creativity
is
assumed
to
be
equal
to
DT.
This
is
evident
in
Section
1,
where
it
is
reported
that
their
study
“sought
to
examine
the
ability,
personality
and
demographic
correlates
of
creativity
as
measured
by
the
Consequences
Test”.
It
is
even
more
remarkable
that,
according
to
the
authors,
this
test
is
“extensively
used
in
creativity
research
as
a
criterion
measure
of
creativity”
(Furnham
&
Nederstrom,
2010).
In
reality,
DT
is
one
of
the
predictors
and
not
a
criterion
of
creativity.
Such
an
equivalence
between
creativity
and
DT
tests
is
also
implied
by
the
studies
on
the
threshold
theory
of
creativity
(according
to
which
creativity
and
intelligence
are
positively
related
only
up
to
an
IQ
of
120).
These
studies
analyze
the
relationship
between
intelligence
and
creativity,
often
using
IQ
tests
to
assess
the
former
and
DT
tests
to
assess
the
latter
(e.g.
Kim,
2005;
Preckel,
Holling,
&
Wiese,
2006).
Arguably,
part
of
the
controversy
regarding
the
threshold
theory
of
creativity,
with
some
researchers
arguing
for
and
others
against
it,
stems
from
the
fact
that
some
researchers
analyze
the
relationship
between
creative
achievement
and
IQ
(e.g.
Park,
Lubinski,
&
Benbow,
2007),
while
other
researchers
analyze
the
relationship
between
DT
and
IQ
(Preckel
et
al.,
2006).
It
is
evident
that
a
comparison
between
IQ
and
such
distinct
constructs
(DT
and
creative
accomplishments)
will
never
provide
a
single
answer.
Yet
(to
the
best
of
my
knowledge)
nobody
has
ever
noted
this
stark
ambiguity
in
a
published
paper.
In
my
opinion,
this
is
an
example
of
the
kind
of
impasse
that
conceptual
confusion
can
lead
to.
In
the
history
of
creativity
research,
DT
has
not
been
the
only
construct
taken
to
be
synonymous
with
creativity.
The
CPS
(Creative
Personality
Scale),
a
30-item
adjective
check-list,
was
assumed
to
represent
“trait
creativity”
and
on
this
assumption
a
behavior
genetic
study
has
even
claimed
to
find
evidence
for
its
emergenic
nature
(Waller,
Bouchard,
Lykken,
Tellegen,
&
Blacker,
1993).
It
is
important
to
realize
is
that
the
terms
“creative
potential”
or
“creativity
tests”
are
too
general
and
poorly
defined
to
be
of
any
use
to
creativity
researchers,
at
least
as
they
are
currently
used.
In
fact,
this
misuse
has
caused
a
great
deal
of
confusion,
with
the
most
unfortunate
consequence
that,
according
to
psychology’s
historical
development,
various
tests
or
scales
have
been
equated
with
measures
of
“core”
creative
potential
(e.g.
Mednick’s
RAT
(Mednick
&
Mednick,
1967);
Torrance’s
TTCT
(Torrance,
1974),
or
even
Gough’s
Creative
Personality
Scale
(Gough,
1979)).
Moreover,
it
has
limited
the
scope
of
the
past
research
on
creativity,
as
one
single
construct
has
been
considered
a
satisfactory
assessment
of
an
individual’s
creative
potential
or
even
of
creativity
tout
court.
If
the
label
“creativity
test”
is
applied
to
DT
tests,
then
it
should
be
applied
also
to
IQ
tests,
personality
scales
and
developmental
variables
that
are
predictive
of
a
person’s
creativity.
Few
researchers
would
argue
that
having
a
high
score
on
RAT
or
DT
tests
alone
is
a
sufficient
condition
to
be
creative
(i.e.
to
create
novel,
appropriate
products).
Having
a
high
IQ
or
a
strong
motivation
and
persistence
(Cox,
1926;
Roe,
1953),
are
as
much
a
part
of
one’s
creative
potential
as
being
excellent
divergent
thinkers.
Moreover,
factors
can
differentially
affect
creative
performance
(e.g.
more
analytical
thinking
and
conscientiousness
for
scientific
vs
artistic
creativity).
However,
a
set
of
variables,
such
as
Openness
to
Experience,
IQ
and
DT
are
likely
to
be
beneficial
to
creativity
in
every
field.
In
my
opinion,
the
fact
that
these
constructs
are
not
closely
related
makes
it
unlikely
that
a
general
factor
of
creative
potential
(i.e.
“trait
creativity”)
will
ever
be
found.
It
must
be
noted
that
not
all
the
researchers
are
trapped
in
this
confusion.
Feist’s
updated
model
of
creativity
for
example
considers
creative
thought
and
behavior
as
influenced
but
distinct
from
genetic–epigenetic
influences,
brain
characteristics,
cognitive
traits,
motivational-affective
traits,
clinical
traits
and
social
traits
(Feist,
2010).
4.
Measurement
of
creativity
As
a
measure
of
scientific
creativity,
citation
counts
are
consistent
with
my
definition
of
creativity
(Simonton,
2002).
Another
example
of
an
appropriate
measurement
of
creativity
is
provided
by
Park
et
al.
(2007).
In
this
study,
earning
a
doctorate,
earning
tenure
at
a
top-50
U.S.
University,
securing
a
patent
or
publishing
a
novel
were
all
considered
aspects
of
creativity.
This
study
found
that
both
overall
ability
level
and
ability
tilt
(difference
between
scores
on
mathematical
and
verbal
ability
tests)
in
12-year
olds
are
significant
predictors
of
creative
accomplishments
20
years
later.
This
study
employed
the
SAT
as
a
measure
of
academic
intelligence
and
found
that
differential
exceptional
verbal
and
mathematical
intelligence
were
correlated
with
accomplishments
in
the
humanities
and
in
the
“hard”
sciences.
This
sample
of
2409
gifted
children,
earned
later
in
life
817
patents
and
published
93
books.
One
participant
was
even
awarded
the
Fields
Medal
and
another
participant
won
the
John
Bates
Clark
Medal
(most
astounding
economist
under
40)
(Park
et
al.,
2007).
The
requirement
for
entry
in
this
sample
was
that
the
12
years
old
student
scored
in
the
top
1%
(compared
to
norms
for
18
years
old
students).
Thus,
it
can
be
argued
that
SAT
is
a
satisfactory
measure
of
creative
potential.
It
is
worth
noting
that,
despite
this,
the
authors
did
not
regard
the
SAT
a
creativity
test
and
few
creativity
researchers
would
probably
do
so.
This
is
in
contrast
to
the
fact
that
creativity
researchers
constantly
apply
this
term
to
DT
tests
or
other
pyschometric
scales
solely
on
the
grounds
that
they
predict
creative
achievement.
I
maintain
that
the
term
“creativity
test”
should
be
restricted
to
scales
that
measure
a
person’s
or
a
product’s
creativity.
Author's personal copy
262 D.
Piffer
/
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264
Because
the
product
is
an
essential
component
of
creativity,
the
Consensual
Assessment
Technique
(CAT)
(Amabile,
1982)
might
be
regarded
as
a
measure
of
product’s
creativity.
However,
insofar
as
the
CAT
shows
test–retest
reliability,
it
also
measures
a
trait.
Creative
production
by
the
same
individual
evaluated
using
the
CAT
shows
a
moderate
degree
of
test–retest
reliability,
around
0.5
(Baer,
2010),
which
is
not
very
high
compared
to
most
psychometric
instruments.
Besides,
creativity
assessed
using
the
CAT
shows
a
high
degree
of
domain
specificity
(i.e.
very
low
correlations
between
creative
performance
in
different
domains).
Thus,
the
CAT
can
assess
one’s
creative
potential
in
specific
domains
and
not
a
general
“trait
creativity”.
Moreover,
the
CAT
relies
on
a
fixed
number
of
creative
tasks.
Since
the
probability
of
coming
up
with
a
successful
creative
product
is
a
function
of
quantity
(Simonton,
2003),
the
CAT
disregards
this
aspect,
because
it
relies
on
assessment
of
only
a
limited
number
of
products.
Besides
the
CAT
relies
only
on
experts’
ratings
of
creativity
whereas
it
could
be
argued
that
peer
ratings
are
as
important
(for
example,
the
success
of
a
novel
or
a
movie
is
likely
to
depend
as
much
on
the
general
public
as
on
experts’
judgments).
Thus,
the
CAT
cannot
be
considered
a
sound
and
thorough
measure
of
creative
potential
and
it
is
still
an
unsatisfactory
laboratory-based
measure
of
product’s
creativity.
Measures
of
creative
achievement
in
the
form
of
self
report
questionnaires
can
be
considered
a
person’s
creativity
test
insofar
as
they
measure
the
quantity
and
creativity
of
the
products
generated
by
people.
An
advantage
of
self
report
measures
of
creative
achievement
(e.g.
CAQ)
is
that
they
tap
into
personal
forms
of
creativity
that
are
“ignored”
by
more
external,
objective
criteria
such
as
the
ones
reviewed
above.
As
Stein
(1953)
argued,
“it
is
necessary
to
distinguish
between
internal
and
external
frames
of
reference”.
Thus,
the
“introspective”
evaluation
of
creative
accomplishments
provides
the
researcher
interested
in
the
assessment
of
a
person’s
creativity
with
valuable
information
that
more
objective
measures
based
on
impact
and
recognition
would
not
tap
into.
In
light
of
this,
unstructured
or
semi-structured
interviews
could
provide
the
researcher
with
precious
information
about
everyday
creative
activities
that
could
be
missed
by
more
standardized
questionnaires.
In
fact,
little-c
or
mini-c
creativity
tends
to
be
more
idiosyncratic
and
to
have
more
personal
meaning
which
impersonal
questionnaires
would
fail
to
appreciate.
The
researcher
(with
a
sound
knowledge
of
the
creative
process
and
a
clear
concept
in
mind
of
what
creativity
really
is)
could
guide
the
creative
individual
through
the
process
of
identifying
his/her
creative
accomplishments.
For
example,
he/she
could
start
asking
general
questions
(e.g.
“Have
you
recently
had
meaningful
insights
or
experiences
that
led
to
personal
growth
or
practical
applications?”)
and
then
proceed
to
more
specific
questions
related
to
the
activities
listed
by
the
individual,
thus
trying
to
determine
whether
they
conform
to
the
more
scientific
view
of
creativity.
The
outcome
of
this
interview
process
would
provide
both
qualitative
and
quantitative
information
on
the
creative
individual
even
at
“lower”
(e.g.
mini-c)
levels
of
creative
accomplishment.
5.
Does
a
general
factor
of
creativity
exist?
Since,
as
I
highlighted
in
Section
1,
my
proposed
definition
of
creativity
corresponds
to
that
of
creative
achievement,
a
general
factor
of
creativity
cannot
exist
(this
is
due
to
the
simple
reason
that
creative
achievement
is
not
a
process
measured
by
psychometric
tests).
However,
in
Section
1
I
made
the
distinction
between
creativity
(creative
achievement)
and
creative
potential.
I
then
argued
that
creative
potential
can
be
subdivided
into
creative
cognition
and
creative
personality.
If
certain
cognitive
or
personality
variables
were
found
to
be
related
to
creativity
(creative
achievement),
and
these
variables
were
in
turn
related
to
each
other
so
that
factor
analysis
revealed
the
existence
of
a
general
factor
of
creative
personality
or
cognition,
then
one
could
claim
to
have
found
evidence
for
the
existence
of
a
general
factor
of
creative
personality
or
cognition.
Studies
of
the
personality
of
creators
in
the
arts
and
the
sciences
have
revealed
that
they
tend
to
share
certain
person-
ality
characteristics,
such
as
openness
to
experience,
introversion,
autonomy,
norm
doubting,
self
confidence,
ambition,
dominance,
hostility
and
impulsivity
(Feist,
1998).
This
nurtures
hope
that
a
general
factor
of
creative
personality
could
be
discovered.
However,
large
differences
between
the
personality
of
scientists
and
artists
were
found,
and
this
leaves
open
the
possibility
that
this
putative
general
factor
of
the
creative
personality
could
be
partly
domain
specific.
Granted
this,
the
mistake
of
using
the
word
creativity
as
synonymous
with
the
general
factor
of
creative
personality
should
be
avoided.
Regarding
creative
cognition,
no
studies
so
far
support
the
existence
of
a
general
factor
as
in
for
intelligence.
For
example,
in
a
recent
review
of
neuroimaging
studies
of
creativity
(Arden
et
al.,
2010),
little
overlap
was
found
in
brain
activity
patterns
between
different
tests
purported
to
measure
creative
cognition
(DT,
RAT,
Open
Problems,
Insight
Problems)
(Arden
et
al.,
2010).
The
task
of
finding
a
general
factor
of
creative
cognition
is
made
even
more
problematic
by
the
fact
that
all
tests
that
participate
in
the
generation
of
a
creative
product
should
be
included
in
any
study
of
the
underlying
neurological
or
psychometric
structure
of
creative
cognition.
In
regard
to
this,
the
study
cited
above
made
the
mistake
of
not
including,
among
other
variables,
convergent
thinking
processes
among
the
creative
cognition
tasks.
Instead,
IQ
tests
were
used
only
as
a
control
variable.
So
even
if
a
common
neurological
activity
pattern
underlying
performance
on
the
RAT,
DT,
Open
Problems
and
Insight
problems
had
been
found
by
the
authors,
this
could
not
have
been
considered
evidence
for
a
general
factor
of
creative
cognition,
because
an
important
component
of
creative
cognition
(IQ)
was
left
out
of
the
analysis.
In
the
same
way,
any
studies
using
a
factor
analytic
approach
to
results
of
psychometric
tests
should
include
in
the
analysis
all
cognitive
processes
that
take
part
in
the
generation
of
creative
products.
Another
major
problem
is
the
likely
possibility
that
Author's personal copy
D.
Piffer
/
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264 263
different
cognitive
skills
are
used
in
different
types
of
creative
activities.
Factor-analytic
studies
that
are
not
based
on
a
solid
theoretical
foundation
but
that
instead
simply
pull
together
scores
from
a
wide
range
of
tests
chosen
according
to
convention
or
the
author’s
instincts
are
prone
to
produce
sloppy
conclusions.
The
Remote
Associates
test
and
the
divergent
thinking
tests
are
based
on
two
quite
distinct
theories
of
creativity,
with
the
former
emphasizing
the
associative
and
synthetic
nature
of
creativity
(Mednick,
1967),
and
the
latter
giving
more
importance
to
the
generation
of
novel
and
original
ideas
(Guilford,
1967).
Another
example
of
a
mistake
caused
by
this
lack
of
theoretical
rationale
is
provided
by
a
study
which
claimed
to
have
found
a
general
creativity
factor
and
two
creativity
sub-factors
(Penke,
2003).
This
study
employed
5
different
indicators
of
creativity
(T-88
elaboration,
T-88
originality,
self
report,
peer
report
and
video
report
ratings
of
“creativity”).
Personality
(E,
O,
C)
and
intelligence
(g,
gc,
gf)
were
included
among
the
predictors.
The
author
did
not
explain
why
he
adopted
self
and
peer
reports
of
“creativity”
(which
in
this
study
lumped
together
personality
and
cognitive
traits
perceived
by
oneself
or
their
peers
to
be
“creative”)
but
not
such
variables
as
E,
O
and
C
as
indicators
of
creativity.
Also,
the
author
did
not
explain
why
intelligence
was
not
adopted
as
an
indicator
of
creativity,
but
performance
on
a
drawing
test
(T-88)
was.
In
reality,
the
author
simply
followed
convention.
However,
good
science
since
Galileo
cannot
be
based
on
following
convention.
At
a
first
look,
a
limitation
of
that
study
is
the
pretension
to
extract
a
general
factor
of
creativity
out
of
only
5
psychometric
scales.
As
we
have
seen,
the
creative
process
consists
of
many
more
cognitive
skills.
However,
in
this
the
biggest
drawback
is
that
the
choice
of
the
psychometric
scales
was
not
based
on
a
theoretical
rationale.
The
approach
I
present
in
this
paper
would
prevent
this
mistake
in
all
future
studies
of
creativity,
as
any
brain
imaging
or
factor-analytic
studies
would
have
to
select
tasks
of
creative
cognition
with
firm
reference
to
a
clear
and
simple
definition,
which
is
that
of
cognitive
processes
that
concur
in
the
generation
of
a
creative
product.
By
staying
too
attached
to
convention,
one
will
make
the
error
of
being
biased
toward
certain
cognitive
processes
(e.g.
DT)
at
the
expense
of
others
(e.g.
memory).
On
the
other
hand,
the
vast
majority
of
creativity
research
is
based
on
a
correlational
approach.
It
is
evident
that
more
experimental
studies
are
needed
to
discover
which
cognitive
processes
are
employed
during
the
generation
of
creative
prod-
ucts.
Cognitive
psychologists
have
mainly
focused
on
the
contribution
of
working
memory
and,
more
specifically,
“mental
synthesis”,
which
can
be
defined
as
“the
manipulation
and
transformation
of
visual
images
to
produce
new
configurations
or
discover
novel
emergent
properties”
(Pearson,
2001).
Many
anecdotal
reports
suggest
that
such
synthesis
might
provide
the
basis
for
important
artistic
and
scientific
discoveries,
such
as
Einstein’s
own
reports
of
the
mental
operations
that
led
him
to
discover
the
general
theory
of
relativity
(Ghiselin,
1952)
or
Watson’s
insights
into
the
double-helix
structure
of
DNA
(Watson,
1968).
Various
authors
have
argued
that
mental
synthesis
plays
a
role
during
the
design
phase
in
architecture
and
engineering
(Purcell
&
Gero,
1998;
Verstijnen,
Van
Leeuwen,
Goldschmidt,
Hamel,
&
Hennessey,
1998).
A
task
developed
by
Finke
and
Slayton
(1988),
commonly
referred
to
as
“creative
synthesis
task”,
has
guided
much
of
the
research
on
mental
synthesis
(Pearson,
2001).
Performance
on
this
task
is
determined
by
the
number
of
legitimate
patterns,
and
the
creativity
and
originality
of
these
productions
as
rated
by
independent
judges
(Helstrup
&
Anderson,
1991;
Pearson,
2001).
It
is
unfortunate
that
the
vast
majority
of
correlational
research
has
ignored
this
important
aspect
of
creative
cognition,
which
could
be
fruitfully
compared
to
other
cognitive
strategies
such
as
divergent
thinking.
6.
Conclusion
In
this
paper,
I
attempted
a
clarification
of
the
notion
of
creativity
and
criticized
the
use
of
this
concept
in
academic
publications.
A
framework
consisting
of
three
dimensions
(novelty,
appropriateness/usefulness
and
impact)
was
provided
within
which
creativity
can
be
defined
and
measured.
I
highlighted
the
lack
of
a
clear
separation
between
the
definitions
of
creativity
of
products,
people
and
creative
potential
in
the
literature
and
showed
that
this
can
lead
to
flawed
studies
and
mistaken
conclusions,
and
hamper
the
progress
of
creativity
research.
The
overall
conclusion
that
creativity
researchers
must
face
is
this:
a
person’s
creativity
is
a
biographical
phenomenon
and
as
such,
it
cannot
be
assessed
with
psychometric
instruments.
Researchers
eager
to
measure
people’s
creativity
must
be
aware
that
neither
DT
tests,
nor
IQ
tests,
nor
the
Consensual
Assessment
Technique
can
measure
a
person’s
creativity.
At
best,
these
instruments
can
assesss
aspects
of
his/her
creative
potential.
But
even
then,
no
single
measure
can
tap
into
“trait
creativity”.
Future
attempts
to
find
a
general
neurological
or
psychometric
factor
of
creativity
must
proceed
from
a
clearer
framework
such
as
the
one
put
forward
in
this
paper.
The
assessment
of
creativity
would
benefit
from
the
employment
of
varied
methods,
as
this
would
produce
a
more
comprehensive
assessment.
Since
creativity
is
the
sum
of
creative
accomplishments,
measures
based
on
both
external,
objective
(research
degrees,
Nobel
prize
or
Field
medal,
impact
factor
of
publications)
and
subjective
(self
report
questionnaires
of
creative
accomplish-
ments,
interviews)
criteria
must
be
used
in
order
to
tap
into
the
different
aspects
of
creativity,
which
roughly
correspond
to
the
four
C’s
of
creativity.
Finally,
I
argued
that
unstructured
or
semi-structured
interviews
would
allow
the
researcher
to
collect
precious
infor-
mation
about
people’s
creativity
that
would
not
be
revealed
by
more
impersonal
methods,
such
as
those
based
on
external
recognition
or
standardized
questionnaires.
Author's personal copy
264 D.
Piffer
/
Thinking
Skills
and
Creativity
7 (2012) 258–
264
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... In addition to the ongoing research on the definition and assessment criteria of creativity, a long-standing body of studies from the creative-person perspective (Rhodes, 1961) has been devoted to the exploration of individual antecedents of creativity to better understand the nature of the construct. Although this line of research is still active in differential psychology, a set of cognitive and personality predictors of creativity across domains has become well-established in the contemporary literature (Batey & Furnham, 2006;Sternberg & Lubart, 1999;Weiss et al., 2021): Divergent thinking is widely recognized as an integral process in creative idea generation and therefore, a key indicator of creative potential that might be predictive of real-world creativity (Amabile, 1988(Amabile, , 1996Guilford, 1966;Jauk, 2019;Kaufman et al., 2008;Piffer, 2012;Runco & Acar, 2012). Intelligence, despite its minimal association with creativity found in a few early studies (e.g., Torrance, 1974;Wallach & Kogan, 1965), has received a considerable amount of evidence supporting its positive contribution to creativity across different measures of intelligence and creativity (Batey & Furnham, 2006;Carroll, 1993;Cropley, 2006;Hennessey & Amabile, 2010;Kane et al., 2004;Kim, 2005;Nusbaum & Silvia, 2011;Primi, 2014;Silvia & Beaty, 2012). ...
... Because it is not standard practice to measure and report both novelty and usefulness along with creativity in one study, most of the existing research on individual predictors of creativity only utilized a unitary global measure of creative performance in operationalization while adopting a multifaceted conceptualization of creativity (Benedek et al., 2013;Hennessey & Amabile, 2010;Kaufman et al., 2008;Silvia et al., 2008). There is also a sizable number of studies in the literature that examined novelty only or simply equated novelty/originality to creativity possibly due to the heavy reliance on divergent thinking tasks and uniqueness scoring (see Piffer, 2012 for a critique of the misuse of terms; also see Barbot et al., 2019 for a commentary on the insufficient clarity of labeling in the field). Consequently, the usefulness aspect remains largely untested with respect to its links with cognitive and personality factors that have been found to be predictive of creativity and novelty. ...
... This conclusion was in line with earlier assumptions that different creativity criteria probably should be adopted depending on the nature or type of the product being evaluated (Glück et al., 2002;Runco et al., 2005). Although more realistic and dynamic than idea generation in AUT items, the production of Minecraft houses in the current study by novice individuals was not a highly complex or difficult task; instead, it taps more into everyday creativity or little-c at the lower-level (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009) and requires only a minimum level of domain-specific expertise (Amabile, 1996;Cropley, 2006;Simonton, 2003;Weisberg, 2006) and thus seems more indicative of creative potential rather than achievements Guilford, 1966;Jauk, 2019;Piffer, 2012;Runco & Acar, 2012). As a result, the college student sample was appropriate for this study but a future study that has access to samples of architects or professional visual designers could be carried out in a higher level Minecraft building task for which the U.S. patent definition might be more suitable; such a study would also allow for testing the role of domain-specific expertise as another individual antecedent of creativity, which to our knowledge, remains an understudied but important and fruitful future research avenue. ...
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... On another hand, new research on creativity also look into identifying assessment tools, which is regarded as challenging and ambiguous (Treffinger et al., 2002;Kaufman et al., 2008;Baer & McKool, 2009;Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009;Batey et al., 2010). Because of the lack of agreement in definition (Batey, 2012;Piffer, 2012), researchers and scholars have developed different instruments for assessing creativity (Batey, 2012), which reflect the conception and nature of creativity (Treffinger et al., 1971). When it comes to assessing creative writing, the assessment of its creativity is problematic where Mozaffari (2013) questioned the need to assess creativity to begin with. ...
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... Among the different approaches to measuring novelty (e.g., Lee et al. 2015;Piffer 2012;Uzzi et al. 2013), admittedly, we borrowed from Grace et al. (2015) the method to cluster products based on multiple physical attributes of the products and the formula to calculate the novelty score because we found this approach itself novel and valuable to measure and track reliably the novelty of a market niche and industry. As we know, novelty is a dynamic concept and thus we added a moving window to constantly update novelty measurement. ...
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