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Creative Minecrafters: Cognitive and personality determinants of creativity, novelty, and usefulness in Minecraft

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Considering creativity as a novel-and-useful performance outcome, this study explored the predictive effects of cognitive abilities (i.e., divergent thinking, intellectual aptitude as indicated by SAT scores) and Big Five personality traits on creativity and its two aspects (i.e., novelty and usefulness) in addition to the intercorrelations between creativity, novelty, and usefulness in a Minecraft building task. Regression analyses based on a college student sample (N = 285) revealed that Minecraft creativity was predicted by divergent thinking (β = .16, p < .01), SAT scores (β = .27, p < .001), and Openness to Experience (β = .23, p < .001), supporting the standing beliefs regarding individual antecedents of creativity. Such personal characteristics however, had different predictive effects on the two components of creativity, in that novelty was predicted by divergent thinking (β = .14, p < .01), SAT scores (β = .13, p < .01), and Openness to Experience (β = .27, p < .001) whereas usefulness was predicted by Openness to Experience only (β = .14, p < .01). In terms of the intercorrelations among creativity and its two subdimensions, novelty and usefulness were found to be highly correlated with each other (r = .72, p < .001) and were also both highly related to creativity (rnovelty-creativity = .89, p< .001, and rusefulness-creativity = .65, p < .001, respectively). Implications of these results, several key avenues for future research, and study limitations are discussed.
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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Creative Minecrafters: Cognitive and Personality Determinants of
Creativity, Novelty, and Usefulness in Minecraft
Amy Shaw
Online First Publication, January 20, 2022. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000456
CITATION
Shaw, A. (2022, January 20). Creative Minecrafters: Cognitive and Personality Determinants of Creativity, Novelty, and
Usefulness in Minecraft. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000456
Creative Minecrafters: Cognitive and Personality Determinants of
Creativity, Novelty, and Usefulness in Minecraft
Amy Shaw
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Macau
Considering creativity as a novel-and-useful performance outcome, this study explored the predictive effects
of cognitive abilities (i.e., divergent thinking, intellectual aptitude as indicated by SAT scores) and Big Five
personality traits on creativity and its two aspects (i.e., novelty and usefulness) in addition to the intercorrela-
tions between creativity, novelty, and usefulness in a Minecraft building task. Regression analyses based on a
college student sample (N= 285) revealed that Minecraft creativity was predicted by divergent thinking (b=
.16, p,.01), SAT scores (b= .27, p,.001), and Openness to Experience (b= .23, p,.001), supporting
the standing beliefs regarding individual antecedents of creativity. Such personal characteristics however, had
different predictive effects on the two components of creativity, in that novelty was predicted by divergent
thinking (b= .14, p,.01), SAT scores (b= .13, p,.01), and Openness to Experience (b= .27, p,.001)
whereas usefulness was predicted by Openness to Experience only (b= .14, p,.01). In terms of the inter-
correlations among creativity and its two subdimensions, novelty and usefulness were found to be highly cor-
related with each other (r= .72, p,.001) and were also both highly related to creativity (r
novelty-creativity
=
.89, p,.001, and r
usefulness-creativity
= .65, p,.001, respectively). Implications of these results, several key
avenues for future research, and study limitations are discussed.
Keywords: creativity, personality, intelligence, divergent thinking, Minecraft
Despite the theoretical and empirical fragmentation in creativity
research (Batey & Furnham, 2006;Mayer, 1999;Plucker et al.,
2004), there appears to be a growth in agreement on the conceptu-
alization of the creativity constructmany denitions in various
domains highlight novelty and usefulness as two main components
of creativity (e.g., Amabile, 1988;Barron, 1955;Runco &
Charles, 1993;Stein, 1953;Sternberg & Lubart, 1999;Sullivan &
Ford, 2010; see Runco & Jaeger, 2012 for the standard deni-
tion).
1
Novelty might take the form of (and be labeled as) original-
ity, unusualness/uncommonness, infrequency, uniqueness, newness,
or innovativeness, whereas usefulness might include variants such
as appropriateness, applicability/relevance, t, adaptiveness, effec-
tiveness, workability/feasibility, functionality, value/utility, elabora-
tion/specicity, or aesthetics (Besemer & Trefnger, 1981;Cropley
&Kaufman,2012,2019;Dean et al., 2006;Kampylis & Valtanen,
2010;Long, 2014;Montag et al., 2012;Zeng et al., 2011). As such,
the operationalization of novelty seems fairly straightforward and
unambiguous, but the scope of the term usefulness is more left open
and subject to controversy (Weisberg, 2015; see also Harrington,
2018 for a different perspective )several creativity researchers
have noted that the connotation of this term varies by the nature of
the context, domain, or task involved (e.g., Amabile, 1988;Cropley
&Kaufman,2019;Gl
aveanu, 2010;Glück et al., 2002;Reiter-Pal-
mon et al., 2009;Runco et al., 2005;Sullivan & Ford, 2010;Weis-
berg, 2006;Zeng et al., 2011). For instance, the usefulness aspect
of artistic creativity often entails subjective judgments about aes-
thetics (Gl
aveanu, 2010;Kozbelt, 2004) whereas the evaluation of
usefulness in the context of scientic problem-solving or engineer-
ing design relies more on features such as appropriateness or utility
of the nal solutions/products (Cropley & Kaufman, 2019;Larson
et al., 1999;Long, 2014;Weisberg, 2006).
Historically novelty has also been identied as the primary or
even central feature of creativity while usefulness is secondary
(Amabile, 1988;Arieti, 1976;Guilford, 1950;Jackson & Messick,
1965;Plucker et al., 2004;Storme & Lubart, 2012). As Guilford
(1950) pointed out, the usefulness aspect was mainly intended to
disqualify random ideas that might appear uncommon but were
not relevant or reasonable (which then should not be considered
Amy Shaw https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8737-4536
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amy
Shaw, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University
of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau. Email: amyshaw@um
.edu.mo
1
Although a comprehensive review of all existing denitions and
assessment criteria of creativity is beyond the scope of the current work, it
should be acknowledged that creativity has been studied from various
perspectives and the nature and structure of creativity are still highly
contentious (Acar et al., 2017;Simonton, 2003,2017;Walia, 2019). Much
of the debate is surrounding the number and content of elements that
constitute the construct of creativity and several conceptualizations have
proposed additional components such as surprise (Boden, 2004;Bruner,
1962), nonobviousness (Sawyer, 2008;Simonton, 2012), or aesthetic and
authenticity (Kharkhurin, 2014). This article adopts the novel-and-useful
denition of creativity (Runco & Jaeger, 2012), but interested readers are
referred to a recent special issue published in The Journal of Creative
Behavior where a number of creativity scholars engaged in a discussion on
the denition of creativity. We would like to thank an anonymous reviewer
for this point.
1
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
©2022 American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1931-3896 https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000456
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
creative). Very recently, in their 1.5 criterion model of creativity
Smith and Smith (2017) explicitly stated that novelty precedes
usefulness and that usefulness should just be potential and in the
ball park(p. 283). This notion has indeed received some empiri-
cal supportstudies that looked into the relative weights of nov-
elty and usefulness in creativity judgments generally revealed the
primacy of novelty (Acar et al., 2017;Besemer & OQuin, 1986;
Caroff & Besancon, 2008;Diedrich et al., 2015;Runco et al.,
2005;Runco & Charles, 1993;Sullivan & Ford, 2010). Notably,
conrming the initial ndings by Runco and Charles (1993),Die-
drich et al. (2015) found that usefulness contributes to creativity
particularly within novel ideas and thus concluded that usefulness
should be best considered as a secondary criterion that could help
separate the wheat from the chaff within the subset of novel ideas
(i.e., usefulness without novelty however, would be viewed as not
creativity). Because these studies that directly examined the inter-
correlations among creativity and its two main components in idea
generation (e.g., Diedrich et al., 2015;Runco & Charles, 1993)
used abstract and unrealistic divergent thinking tasks (e.g., listing
alternate uses for a bucket), the question remains open as to
whether those previously found associations including the domi-
nant role of novelty in contributing to creativity, might extend to
more complex and realistic production-based tasks which presum-
ably would increase the contextual relevance of usefulness in over-
all evaluation of creativity (Glück et al., 2002;Runco et al., 2005).
In addition to the ongoing research on the denition and assess-
ment 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 under-
stand the nature of the construct. Although this line of research is
still active in differential psychology, a set of cognitive and person-
ality predictors of creativity across domains has become well-estab-
lished 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 genera-
tion and therefore, a key indicator of creative potential that might
be predictive of real-world creativity (Amabile, 1988,1996;Guil-
ford, 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;Wal-
lach & Kogan, 1965), has received a considerable amount of evi-
dence 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). Recent works with improved statisti-
cal tools (e.g., latent variable modeling utilized in Silvia, 2008a and
Jauk et al., 2014; necessary condition analysis used by Karwowski
et al., 2016) as well as more advanced methods (e.g., neurocogni-
tive approaches; Vartanian, 2019) led to the conclusion that intelli-
gence and creativity might be even more closely related to each
other than was previously thought (Gerwig et al., 2021; see also Sil-
via, 2015 for a review). Alongside cognitive abilities, personality
(e.g., the Big Five personality traits; Costa & McCrae, 1992)is
worth examining because it captures motivational/volitional mecha-
nisms behind creative behaviors and performance (Karwowski &
Lebuda, 2017). Among the Big Five personality variables, Open-
ness to Experience (dened as the predisposition to be imaginative,
curious, original, and open to new ideas; Costa & McCrae, 1992;
McCrae, 1987) has shown a consistent positive link to creativity
across a wide range of tasks in multiple domains, whereas mixed
patterns have been found for the other traits (Batey & Furnham,
2006;Feist, 1998;King et al., 1996;McCrae, 1987;Puryear et al.,
2017;Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
Because it is not standard practice to measure and report both nov-
elty 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 (Bene-
dek 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/origi-
nality 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 insufcient clarity of labeling in the eld). Consequently, the
usefulness aspect remains largely untested with respect to its links
with cognitive and personality factors that have been found to be pre-
dictive of creativity and novelty.
Aims and Scope of Study
The present study explores such unanswered or understudied
questions as to whether the patterns of intercorrelations among
creativity and its two main components (i.e., novelty and useful-
ness; Jaeger, 2012;Runco & Stein, 1953) in divergent thinking
tasks might still hold for a more complex and information-rich
production-based task (in which usefulness might be more rele-
vant), as well as whether the predictive effects of some well-docu-
mented individual differences in cognitive and personality factors
(i.e., divergent thinking, intelligence, Openness to Experience) on
creativity and novelty would also carry over to the usefulness
dimension. To this end, creativity is measured as a product-genera-
tion performance outcome that comprises both novelty and useful-
ness components in a recently developed task (Shaw & Beier,
2019) using Minecraft (the education edition; Mojang, 2016)as
the platform for artifacts creation. As a java-based sandbox game,
Minecraft provides a 3D virtual world in which players build or
craft constructions via placing blocks in a grid-style matrix (analo-
gous to Lego construction sets in real world). Unlike traditional vid-
eogames that often require players to accumulate points to move
onto the next level, the Minecraft game is about giving players free-
dom to set their own goals, explore, and create (Mojang, 2016;Nebel
et al., 2016). At the present time, Minecraft has not been extensively
used in psychological experiments but holds promise for expanding
researcherstoolbox when assessing creativity for both formative and
summative purposes. In this regard, the current study is also an
attempt to measure creative performance in the context of Minecraft
and the research inquiries to be addressed would shed light on the
concept of Minecraft creativity per se. Specically, the study aims to
explore two research questions (RQs):
RQ1: What are the interrelationships among creativity, nov-
elty, and usefulness in the Minecraft building task?
RQ2: How would divergent thinking, intelligence, and
Openness to Experience contribute to creativity and its two
subdimensions in Minecraft?
2SHAW
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Note that the focus of this study is not on creativity broadly, but
rather on the Minecraft creative performance particularly.
Method
Participants
Undergraduate students (N= 300) enrolled at a large public
research university were recruited for the study and rewarded with
research credits for their participation. To be eligible for the study,
students had to be at least 18 years old and not be intermediate or
advanced players of Minecraft to ensure all participants were novi-
ces for the Minecraft creation task. Besides, Computer Science
majors were ineligible to participate due to their greater-than-aver-
age computer prociency which would probably enhance their
Minecraft task performance. An analysis sample (N= 285) was
obtained after excluding 11 people who did not complete the study
and 4 cases who showed severely limited language prociency.
According to participantsself-report ethnic identication, the
nal sample was 32.3% Asian, 36.8% Caucasian, 15.8% Hispanic,
9.1% African American, and 6.0% other ethnic groups. 65.3% of
the participants were female. Age ranged from 18 to 22 with a
mean of 19.69 (SD = 1.26). The most common college majors in
this sample were psychology (45.3%) and engineering (37.5%),
and 14.4% were from other social science majors and 2.8% were
undecided.
Procedure
People rst provided their written informed consent and those
who agreed to continue in the study proceeded to complete a ques-
tionnaire that included questions about their demographic informa-
tion, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) total scores, videogame
playing frequency, in addition to a personality measure. Upon n-
ishing these, participants were instructed to work on the divergent
thinking task and then the Minecraft task. Finally, participants
were debriefed and thanked for their participation.
Measures and Tasks
SAT Total Scores
In this study participantsself-reported SAT total scores were
used as a convenient proxy for their intelligence. As a standardized
test of college studentsacademic/intellectual aptitude, ones SAT
total score could serve as a suboptimal substitute for direct mea-
surement of general intelligence (Frey, 2019) given the substantial
and consistent correlations found between SAT scores and other
extant cognitive ability measures (Engle et al., 1999;Frey & Det-
terman, 2004;Kim et al., 2010;Kuncel & Hezlett, 2010). Past
works (e.g., Condon & Revelle, 2014;Park et al., 2007) have also
used SAT total scores to reect both uid and crystallized intelli-
gence. The average SAT total score of this sample was 1932.77
(SD = 162.52) out of 2,400 and the score range was from 1,500 to
2,400. The skewness statistic was .34 (SE = .14) and the kurtosis
statistic was .10 (SE = .29), suggesting that the SAT total score
distribution was close to normal even under stringent standards of
1.50 (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2013).
Personality Measure
The 50-item International Personality Item Pool (IPIP; Gold-
berg et al., 2006) inventory was used for measuring the Big Five
personality traits. Each trait scale on IPIP has 10 items. Partici-
pants responded on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very inaccurate
description of me,5=very accurate description of me). Respond-
ents were instructed to describe themselves as they generally were
as honestly and truthfully as possible in relation to other people
they knew of the same sex and roughly the same age. The esti-
mated reliabilities using the Cronbachs alpha coefcient for all
trait scales were .90 (Extraversion), .86 (Agreeableness), .88 (Con-
scientiousness), .88 (Emotional Stability), and .89 (Openness to
Experience).
Divergent Thinking Task
Participants completed two classic alternate uses task (AUT;
Guilford, 1967) items in which they were asked to generate un-
usual uses for a brick and a knife, respectively. As a variant of the
consensual assessment technique (CAT; Amabile, 1988,1996),
the top two subjective scoring approach (henceforth referred to as
Top-2 DT Originality (this should be Top-2 DT Originality);Silvia
et al., 2008) was adopted for its emphasis on quality over quantity
of responses and relative efciency in the scoring process (Shaw,
2021;Silvia et al., 2008,2009). As recommended in previous
research (Barron & Harrington, 1981;Harrington, 1975;Nusbaum
et al., 2014;Runco et al., 2005), participants were instructed to try
their best to come up with creative ideas that were dened as
uncommon, original, and reasonable. The intent of requiring a
response to be reasonable was to exclude seemingly uncommon
responses which might be merely random or nonsensical (Guil-
ford, 1950,1967; also see Reiter-Palmon et al., 2019 for the quali-
cation of response adequacy). Each item was given 3 min and
after each item, people were asked to review their responses and to
pick the best two uses that they considered as the most creative
ones (which would then be evaluated by raters for creativity).
Although participants could take as much time as they wish to
pick their top two responses, they all did this very quickly. The
entire divergent thinking task took 6 to 8 min.
Within each AUT item, the top two responses decided by partic-
ipants themselves were entered into a spreadsheet and randomized;
typos were silently corrected, and redundant responses were
excluded. Three graduate students who had experience in creativ-
ity research (especially subjective rating for AUT items) served as
the raters. Following the scoring guidelines provided by Silvia et
al. (2008, p. 85), raters were told that creative ideas should be
uncommon, remote, and clever (Wilson et al., 1953) and that
uncommon but random or nonsensical ideas would not be creative.
Raters were also instructed to consider all the three facets (i.e.,
uncommonness, remoteness, and cleverness) during the rating and
that although creative ideas would often score high on all the fac-
ets, strength in one aspect could balance weakness in another
(Guilford, 1967). The sequence of responses was also balanced for
raters to avoid possible order effects. Before doing the actual rat-
ing, raters were asked to review all responses rst so that they
could get a sense of the creativity range in this sample and avoid
overrating of originality or uniqueness early on. The raters then in-
dependently scored the responses for creativity on a 5-point Lik-
ert-type rating scale (1 = not at all creative,2=slightly creative,
INDIVIDUAL ANTECEDENTS OF MINECRAFT CREATIVITY 3
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3=moderately creative,4=very creative,5=extremely creative).
The interrater correlations ranged from .72 to .82 and the intraclass
correlation (ICC; Shrout & Fleiss, 1979) using a two-way mixed-
effect model was .89, suggesting that the raters made comparable
evaluations of creativity across all responses on the two AUT
items.
To calculate the Top-2 DT Originality, we rst averaged the rat-
ings from the raters for each response and then averaged the rat-
ings of the two responses on each AUT item for each participant.
We then checked the consistency of the creativity ratings across
the brick and knife items and found that the ratings correlated well
between these two AUT items (r= .74, p,.001). Therefore, the
total of the two AUT item ratings was computed for each partici-
pant to create the Top-2 DT Originality scores (which thereby had
a full range of 210).
Minecraft Task
The Minecraft building task and rating rubric developed and ini-
tially validated by Shaw and Beier (2019) were used. In accordance
with the novel-and-useful denition (Runco & Jaeger, 2012), the
conception of Minecraft creativity comprises of both novelty and
usefulness aspectsnovelty refers to uncommon and original
Minecraft artifacts which shall occur infrequently in the sample,
whereas usefulness is broadly construed as including any feature
that could make the ideas or products appear reasonable, potentially
functional or useful in some way, and/or aesthetically pleasing.
Participants were told that the task was to design and build a
house in Minecraft that was creativeuncommon, original, rea-
sonable, potentially functional or useful in some way, and/or aes-
thetically pleasingthis denition of creativity was explicitly
presented to people. Participants were also instructed to be crea-
tive and do their best job possible (Harrington, 1975;Nusbaum et
al., 2014). When participants were ready, they were guided to
master the basic controls which took up to 5 min. Prior to the core
task, participants were required to practice the controls for up to
10 min. After the practice, participants performed the building
task individually which took up to 30 min.
Consensual assessment technique (CAT; Amabile, 1988,1996)
was used for scoring in this task. To preclude potential common
method/source bias caused by using the same raters, three groups of
raters (with three in each group) separately conducted the rating for
creativity, novelty, and usefulness. The raters were graduate students
who self-identied as intermediate or advanced players of Minecraft
and had experience with subjective rating in creativity research proj-
ects, so that they were familiar with the Minecraft building task and
had a good understanding of the research topic (i.e., creativity) in the
current study but were naïve to the specicRQs.
For the global ratings of creativity, the novel-and-useful de-
nition of Minecraft creativity as presented above was provided to
the raters. Also following Zhou and Oldham (2001), raters were
explicitly instructed to take both novelty and usefulness into con-
sideration when making a holistic evaluation (but without
emphasizing either aspect). For the separate ratings of novelty
and usefulness, we respectively provided the aforementioned
denition of novelty stating that novel Minecraft artifacts are
uncommon and original and infrequent in the sample, and the
denition of usefulness describing that usefulness might refer to
features such as appearing reasonable, potentially functional or
useful in some way, and/or aesthetically pleasing. Raters were
told that they could consider creativity/novelty/usefulness based
on the idea, design, shape, symmetry, color, decoration, elabora-
tion or complexity, or selection of building materials, and that
they might compare one house to others in the sample or to what
they saw or experienced in Minecraft previously. The sequence
of the Minecraft products was also balanced within groups of
raters to avoid possible order effects in rating. Before doing the
actual rating, raters were asked to take a look at all of the Mine-
craft houses rst so that they could gain a quick impression of
the creative performance range in the pool. The raters within
each group then independently rated each participants Minecraft
house on a 5-point scale, whereon 1 = not at all creative/novel/
useful,2=slightly creative/novel/useful,3=moderately crea-
tive/novel/useful,4=very creative/novel/useful,5=extremely
creative/novel/useful for creativity, novelty, and usefulness.
The nal creativity/novelty/usefulness scores for each Minecraft
house were generated by taking the average of all the three raters
independent ratings in each group. Before the aggregation, we
checked whether the raters showed adequate agreement in their
evaluations. For the ratings of creativity, novelty, and usefulness,
the interrater correlations all ranged from .80 to .90 and the intra-
class reliability estimates using the two-way mixed-effect model
were .95, .96, and .93, respectively, indicating that the raters had
excellent consistency in their ratings.
To better illustrate the creativity levels of the Minecraft prod-
ucts in the current study, a few examples of Minecraft houses that
received unanimous ratings across the raters are presented in
Figure 1. As shown in the upper panel, the house received ratings
of 1 (the lowest rating) on creativity, novelty, and usefulness, due
to its generic and unoriginal design and lack of aesthetic quality
that could be appreciated by the raters; without a door or window,
it does not appear useful or functional either. In the middle panel,
the two received an overall rating of 3 (moderately creative) from
all ratersboth houses seem to have a realistic design and exhibit
some functionality or aesthetic features, but neither of the two was
considered extraordinarily creative by the raters; the house on the
left received a novelty rating of 4 and a usefulness rating of 2 (the
combination of stone and glass roong design seems novel and
infrequent in the sample but the functionality is compromised by
its slenderness for this small house without a stairway and the use
of fragile glass as part of the roof) whereas the house on the right
received a novelty rating of 2 and a usefulness rating of 4 (rectan-
gular houses are frequent in the sample but the house appears
functional and gives some aesthetic pleasure as a more traditional
neighborhood-style house). In the lower panel, the house received
ratings of 5 (the highest rating) on creativity, novelty, and useful-
ness, because this house was regarded as having a complex and
original design in the sample and at the same time, it appeared aes-
thetic and functional to the raters.
Results
Correlation and regression analyses were conducted to examine
the relationships among Minecraft creativity, novelty, and useful-
ness, as well as to explore the predictive roles of SAT scores, Big
Five personality traits, and Top-2 DT Originality for the Minecraft
creative outcomes. Because videogame playing frequency was
likely to inuence the Minecraft task performance, and past
4SHAW
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research has shown gender differences in both videogame per-
formance (Brown et al., 1997) and self-efcacy (Bergey et al.,
2015), we included videogame playing frequency and gender in
the correlational analyses.
Table 1 summarizes the means, standardized deviations, and
zero-order correlations for all variables. As is shown in the table,
Minecraft creativity positively relates to Top-2 DT Originality (r=
.17, p,.01), Openness to Experience (r= .28, p,.001), and
SAT total scores (r= .28, p,.001)such associations were gen-
erally consistent with those found in previous studies using other
creativity tasks or measures. As for the links between the individ-
ual predictors and the two facets of Minecraft creativity, Top-2
DT Originality was positively correlated with novelty (r= .15,
p,.05) but not usefulness (r= .00, ns); Openness to Experience
was positively correlated with both novelty (r= .32, p,.001) and
usefulness (r= .18, p,.01); SAT total scores were positively cor-
related with novelty (r= .15, p,.05) but not usefulness (r= .06,
ns), suggesting that Minecraft novelty and usefulness had different
relationships with the predictor variables. In terms of the magni-
tude, these correlation coefcients were all small or small to me-
dium according to the standards suggested by Cohen (1988).
Regarding the intercorrelations between the two facets of Mine-
craft creativity, as presented in Table 1, novelty and usefulness are
highly correlated with each other (r= .72, p,.001) and are both
highly related to creativity (r
novelty-creativity
= .89, p,.001, and
r
usefulness-creativity
= .65, p,.001, respectively). The correlation
between novelty and creativity was higher than the correlation
between usefulness and creativity (z= 10.64, p,.001). All the
coefcients for the intercorrelations were classied as medium to
large or large in terms of the magnitude (Cohen, 1988). These
intercorrelations indicated that although both novelty and use-
fulness were positively related to Minecraft creativity, the
global ratings of creativity in this Minecraft building task
(without emphasizing either facet in the instructions to partici-
pants or raters) were likely to be more dependent on novelty
of the products. The correlational results also revealed that
Minecraft creativity, novelty, and usefulness were all posi-
tively correlated with videogame playing frequency (1 =
never,6=very frequently) and negatively correlated with gen-
der (1 = male, 2 = female), conrming our prior speculation
about the effects of these two variables on the Minecraft task
performance. Therefore, videogame playing frequency and
gender were both entered in the subsequent regression analy-
ses as control variables.
Three hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to test the
extent to which the Minecraft creative performance variances could
Figure 1
Examples of Minecraft Houses With Low, Medium, and High Levels of
Creativity, Novelty, and Usefulness
H
Cr
House on th
House on the
Cr
reativity scor
he left: Creat
e right: Crea
reativity scor
re = 1, Nove
tivity score =
ativity score
re = 5, Nove
elty score = 1
= 3, Novelty
= 3, Novelty
elty score = 5
1, Usefulnes
y score = 4, U
y score = 2,
5, Usefulnes
ss score = 1
Usefulness s
Usefulness s
ss score = 5
core = 2
score = 4
Note. See the online article for the color version of this gure.
INDIVIDUAL ANTECEDENTS OF MINECRAFT CREATIVITY 5
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
be uniquely explained by each statistically signicant predictor as
shown in the correlation analyses (i.e., Top-2 DT Originality, Open-
ness to Experience, and SAT total scores) with controlling for the
effects of videogame playing frequency and gender. Therefore, in
each regression model, videogame playing frequency and gender
were entered at Step 1 as the control variables and the predictors
were entered at Step 2; the criterion variables were Minecraft crea-
tivity, novelty, and usefulness, respectively. Table 2 displays the
standardized regression coefcients (beta weights) and R-square
changes indicating the unique contribution of predictor variables in
explaining variances in creative performance after controlling for
videogame playing and gender effects.
As is shown in Table 2, after controlling for videogame playing
frequency and gender, for Minecraft creativity, SAT total scores,
Openness to Experience, and Top-2 DT Originality remain signi-
cant predictors (b=.27,p,.001, b=.23,p,.001, and
b=.16,p,.01, respectively) accounting for variances in the crite-
rion. For Minecraft novelty, SAT total scores, Openness to Experi-
ence, and Top-2 DT Originality also remained signicant predictors
(b=.13,p,.01, b=.27,p,.001, and b=.14,p,.01, respec-
tively). For Minecraft usefulness however, SAT total scores and
Top-2 DT Originality were not signicant predictors (b=.05,ns,
and b=.00,ns, respectively), and only Openness to Experience
remained a signicant predictor (b=.14,p,.01).
Discussion
In the present research where creativity occurred in the context
of Minecraft artifact production, the study purpose was twofold.
RQ1 regarded the concept of creativity in Minecraft and therefore,
we examined the relationships among creativity and its two main
components (i.e., novelty and usefulness) according to the stand-
ard denition (Runco & Jaeger, 2012). Supporting the novel-and-
useful dual-criterion conceptualization of creativity, our results
revealed that Minecraft creativity, novelty, and usefulness were
positively and highly (but not perfectly) linked to each other
(r
novelty-usefulness
= .72, p,.001, r
novelty-creativity
= .89, p,.001,
and r
usefulness-creativity
= .65, p,.001, respectively). Moreover, in
line with the traditional emphasis on novelty in theorizing creativ-
ity (e.g., Arieti, 1976;Guilford, 1950;Jackson & Messick, 1965;
Smith & Smith, 2017) and past empirical results revealing the pri-
macy of novelty in other creativity tasks or measures (e.g., Acar et
al., 2017;Diedrich et al., 2015;Runco et al., 2005;Runco &
Charles, 1993;Sullivan & Ford, 2010), we found that in Minecraft
Table 2
Hierarchical Regression Analysis Results for Effects of Predictors on Creativity, Novelty, and Usefulness in Minecraft
Dependent variable in each regression model
Independent variable Minecraft creativity Minecraft novelty Minecraft usefulness
Step 1: Control variable
Videogame play .33*** .35*** .26***
Gender (1 = male, 2 = female) .18** .20*** .21***
R
2
.20*** .22*** .16***
DR
2
.20*** .22*** .16***
Step 2: Predictor
SAT total scores .27*** .13** .04
Openness to Experience .23*** .27*** .15**
Top-2 DT Originality .16** .14** .00
R
2
.35*** .34*** .18***
DR
2
.15*** .12*** .02***
Note.N= 285. DT = divergent thinking; SAT = Scholastic Aptitude Test. All standardized regression coefficients in the table are from the final step in
the analyses.
** p,.01. *** p,.001.
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations for Study Variables
Variable M(SD) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1. Minecraft creativity 2.50 (1.12)
2. Minecraft novelty 2.45 (1.03) .89***
3. Minecraft usefulness 2.46 (0.96) .65*** .72***
4. Top-2 DT Originality 6.48 (1.28) .17** .15* .00
5. Extraversion 31.32 (2.70) .00 .03 .09 .06
6. Agreeableness 31.87 (2.75) .03 .04 .04 .01 .15*
7. Conscientiousness 32.08 (3.04) .05 .02 .05 .03 .09 .04
8. Emotional Stability 28.94 (5.12) .11 .07 .03 .06 .06 .11 .24***
9. Openness to Experience 32.13 (3.18) .28*** .32*** .18** .09 .10 .04 .19** .04
10. SAT total scores 1,932.77 (162.52) .28*** .15* .06 .06 .07 .09 .11 .10 .04
11. Videogame play 2.59 (1.40) .41*** .43*** .35*** .03 .08 .00 .16** .26*** .04 .03
12. Gender (1 = male, 2 = female) 1.65 (0.48) .32*** .35*** .32*** .08 .01 .13* .09 .20** .10 .01 .42***
Note.N= 285. DT = divergent thinking; SAT = Scholastic Aptitude Test.
*p,.05. ** p,.01. *** p,.001.
6SHAW
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novelty also correlated with creativity more highly. Nonetheless,
the usefulness component in the current study must not be
neglected given its noticeable correlation with creativity, which
contrasts with previous studies (e.g., Diedrich et al., 2015;Runco
& Charles, 1993) that reported a much lesser role of usefulness as
an aspect of creativity. One explanation for this divergence lies in
the differences between the creativity tasksconcrete object pro-
duction in a more complex and information-rich problem context
(i.e., Minecraft house building) versus idea generation in more
abstract and unrealistic divergent thinking tasks (e.g., AUT items).
According to Runco et al. (2005) who compared several traditional
unrealistic with more realistic divergent thinking tasks, usefulness
or appropriateness seemed more relevant and important in those
more complex realistic tasks, whereas the role of novelty was sub-
stantially greater than that of usefulness in the unrealistic divergent
thinking tasks without a problem-solving context. Runco et al.
(2005) explained that the elements in more realistic tasks were
likely to imply that the responses should be more appropriate/fea-
sible so that these tasks were more conducive to usefulness. As
such, the type of tasks might affect the respective relations of nov-
elty and usefulness to creativity (Reiter-Palmon et al., 2009;
Runco et al., 2005). Taking this view further, the intercorrelations
of creativity and its aspects also vary depending on the domain,
context, or even culture (e.g., Paletz & Peng, 2008;Sullivan &
Ford, 2005;Yuan & Zhou, 2008) because the generation and sub-
jective evaluation of ideas or products cannot occur in a vacuum
but must be contextually based (Amabile, 1988;Cropley & Kauf-
man, 2019;Plucker et al., 2004;Reiter-Palmon et al., 2009;Zeng
et al., 2011). Therefore, it must be kept in mind that the ndings
on the relationships between creativity and its two main compo-
nents as uncovered in this study might not generalize to other tasks
or domains. As Simonton (2017) reiterated, probably no single
study (including the current one) can fully address the denitional
issue in creativity research.
On a related note, the positive linear intercorrelations found
between novelty and usefulness and creativity suggested that
Minecraft houses rated as more novel were often those viewed as
more useful (and then overall, more creative) by distinct raters in
the present research. This could be a result of the more relevant
role of usefulness in the current task as previously discussed.
Another possibility, however, could be that participants who were
more motivated to do well on the Minecraft creativity task exerted
more effort and as a result, achieved better performance on the
novelty and usefulness subdimensions. Even though participants
were encouraged to be creative, the creating process was effort-
taking and not everyone would try their best on the task, especially
given the low-stakes lab context in which people did not get penal-
ized for not trying hard (Duckworth et al., 2011;Sundre, 1999;
Wise & DeMars, 2005; also see Shaw et al., 2020 for a recent
review of the task/test taking motivation issue in low-stakes
assessment conditions). To qualify (or rule out) this speculation,
future validation with more information on or control over partici-
pantstask performing effort is desirable.
RQ2 focused on how some of the well-documented domain-
transcending cognitive and personality determinants of individ-
ual creativity in the literature might predict creativity, novelty,
and usefulness in Minecraft. The results conrmed and extended
the theories and previous work on individual antecedents of crea-
tivity in that the predictor variables of interest, namely, divergent
thinking, intelligence, and the Openness to Experience personal-
ity trait, were all found to be predictive of creativity and novelty
in Minecraft. Interestingly, although novelty was predicted by
Openness to Experience the most (b= .27, p,.001), intelli-
gence (operationalized as SAT total scores) emerged as the
strongest predictor of Minecraft creativity (b= .27, p,.001),
suggesting the importance of analytical or convergent thinking
(Cropley, 2006) for participants to achieve good overall creative
performance in this task. Creative production generally involves
both idea generation (via divergent thinking) and evaluation (via
convergent thinking) processes (Blair & Mumford, 2007;Crop-
ley, 2006;Runco & Acar, 2012) and the demand for such intel-
lectual abilities as convergent thinking often varies across
different tasks (Diedrich et al., 2018). For the Minecraft building
task, it is convincible that the creator, at least, must rely on con-
vergent thinking deliberately to evaluate and decide on which
ideas to pursue and to plan and execute in order to complete the
creation. Note that as a less-ideal-yet-convenient proxy for gen-
eral intelligence, self-reported SAT total scores could save time
and reduce possible fatigue for the participants in the lab, but
direct measurement of cognitive abilities might allow for stron-
ger conclusions regarding the effects of intelligence on creative
performance in the study. Likewise, as a relatively efcient sub-
jective scoring index, Top-2 DT Originality was used as the indi-
cator of divergent thinking. Notwithstanding its strengths, this
scoring approach has disadvantages that must be acknowledged.
The top responses selected by participants themselves might
cause additional variation in the scoring because of individual
differences in evaluation skills and in fact, empirical ndings on
the accuracy of self-discernment of creative ideas have been
mixed or contradictoryalthough there is evidence supporting
that individuals are capable of evaluating the originality of their
own responses precisely (e.g., Silvia, 2008b), other studies have
found that people are actually quite poor at creative idea selec-
tion for themselves (Benedek et al., 2016;Puente-Díaz et al.,
2021;Rietzschel et al., 2006,2010). Furthermore, Top-2 DT
Originality mainly captures the originality aspect of divergent
thinking (Silvia et al., 2008), so that the results for divergent
thinking might not be the same when other scoring approaches
are employed (Acar & Runco, 2019;Benedek et al., 2013;
Plucker & Makel, 2010;Reiter-Palmon et al., 2019;Vartanian et
al., 2020).
As for the usefulness criterion in Minecraft, it was only pre-
dicted by Openness to Experience (b= .14, p,.01). One plausi-
ble explanation for this result is that people high on Openness to
Experience tend to have artistic interests and often engage in
everyday creative activities (e.g., producing a drawing or making a
collage; Conner & Silvia, 2015), so that they are likely (or at least
able) to draw on those daily creative experiences and accumulated
memory or knowledge about what features might make a building
appear functional or aesthetic when performing the Minecraft task.
This speculation certainly warrants further examination, and recent
empirical evidence uncovering the mediating role of crystallized
intelligence in the predictive effects of Openness to Experience on
creativity in divergent thinking tasks (Weiss et al., 2021; see also
von Stumm & Ackerman, 2013 for more theoretical discussions)
seems to correspond well with this assumption. An alternative ex-
planation draws upon the previously discussed task-taking effort or
motivation effects on both novel and useful performance aspects
INDIVIDUAL ANTECEDENTS OF MINECRAFT CREATIVITY 7
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
(Duckworth et al., 2011;Wise & DeMars, 2005)one might spec-
ulate that those higher on Openness to Experience might be more
interested in the Minecraft building task itself and accordingly be
more intrinsically motivated to do well on the task (Amabile, 1988,
1996).
To date, the usefulness subdimension has received relatively
less attention due to its secondary role in creativity research.
Although there is a plethora of empirical studies on the individ-
ual antecedents of creative performance across domains and
tasks (Batey & Furnham, 2006), this effort has mostly focused
on creativity or novelty. Hence, the present study is one of the
rst that explicitly and directly examines the cognitive and per-
sonality determinants for both novelty and usefulness as separate
aspects of creativity. Complementing existing research that has
shown the differential effects of social/organizational contextual
factors on novelty and usefulness (e.g., Litcheld et al., 2011;
Yuan & Zhou, 2008), the different effects of cognitive and per-
sonality predictors on novelty and usefulness found in this study
further supported that as conceptually and empirically distinct
formative aspects of creativity, novelty and usefulness are indeed
driven by different antecedents and mechanisms (Sullivan &
Ford, 2010;seeMontag et al., 2012 for a theoretical analysis).
Therefore, it is worth attending to the subdimension-level phe-
nomena which could bring more ne-grained insights into the
concept of creativity. As a cautionary note, the ndings in the
current study shall be interpreted within its context and might
not generalize to other tasks or domains in which the meanings
of creativity and its facets might vary (Paletz & Peng, 2008;Sul-
livan & Ford, 2005) and thus creative performance might require
different sets of personal predictors (e.g., S. Kaufman et al.,
2016). Future research replicating or extending the present
results in other tasks/domains would be benecial.
As noted, this study adopted the standard denition of creativ-
ity (Runco & Jaeger, 2012) which has received considerable
amount of agreement. Yet, the standard denition is not com-
pletely adequatethere might be strong consensus as to the
major components of creativity, but whether additional elements
shall be used in dening creativity and which denition would
be more effective are still debatable (Acar et al., 2017;Plucker et
al., 2004;Simonton, 2012,2017;Walia, 2019). For instance, a
recent study by Acar et al. (2017) suggested that although the
dual-criterion standard denition was useful and practical in the
evaluation of ideas generated from divergent thinking tasks or
everyday creative products (i.e., Mini-C or Little-C; Kaufman &
Beghetto, 2009), the U.S. Patent Ofce three-facet denition
novelty, usefulness, and nonobviousness (Sawyer, 2008;Simon-
ton, 2012)or surprise (Boden, 2004;Bruner, 1962) worked
better for higher level, more complex and socially recognizable
products or achievements (i.e., Pro-C or Big-C; Kaufman &
Beghetto, 2009) that often have greater real-world impact
(Simonton, 2003). 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 nov-
ice individuals was not a highly complex or difcult 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-specic expertise (Amabile, 1996;
Cropley, 2006;Simonton, 2003;Weisberg, 2006) and thus seems
more indicative of creative potential rather than achievements
(Barbot et al., 2019; 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 denition might be more suitable; such a study
would also allow for testing the role of domain-specic expertise
as another individual antecedent of creativity, which to our
knowledge, remains an understudied but important and fruitful
future research avenue.
Aside from the substantive implications of the present study for
creativity research, the Minecraft creativity task used here is
another topic of discussion. In both the academic community and
testing industry, there is a growing interest in utilizing videogame-
based tasks to improve psychological assessment for the dynamic,
interactive and engaging animation features in games and additional
behavioral data that are difcult to obtain in traditional tests (Green
&Kaufman,2015;Landers, 2014;Shute & Rahimi, 2021;Shute &
Ventura, 2013). There also has been some research evidence sup-
porting the potential benets of videogame playing for nurturing
creativity (e.g., Jackson et al., 2012;Kassim et al., 2014), which
makes videogames become attractive to educators who aspire to de-
velop students21st century Four Csskillscritical thinking,
creativity, communication, and collaboration (National Education
Association, 2012;Whorton et al., 2017). As an educational me-
dium that offers authentic creating and crafting experience, Mine-
craft has been used by teachers around the world to illustrate
scientic concepts in an engaging way in classrooms and is at the
forefront of the change to improve learning experience and effec-
tiveness (Nebel et al., 2016). In response to the call for more
diverse approaches to assessing creativity (Barbot, 2018;Reiter-
Palmon et al., 2019;Zeng et al., 2011), this article explored the
possibility of and found support for measuring creativity in the con-
text of Minecraft by demonstrating the applicability of the standard
denition (Runco & Jaeger, 2012) as well as showing expected pos-
itive associations between Minecraft creative performance and
well-established cognitive and personality determinants of creativ-
ity. The current work is at a starting point which hopefully could
stimulate continued exploration and expansion of utilizing Mine-
craft and other videogames as alternative creativity tasks to capital-
ize on the available tools of our digital era. Despite the pessimistic
view that creativity research has remained a backwater for psychol-
ogists because of the difculty in its operationalization and assess-
ment (Parkhurst, 1999;Simonton, 2003,2017) that creativity
researchers ought to take seriously, we still remain hopeful that the
eld will move forward with more collective effort devoted to
improving creativity assessment (Kaufman et al., 2008;Reiter-Pal-
mon et al., 2019;cf.Barbot et al., 2019), which, ultimately, might
enhance our understanding of this intriguing and intricate concept
in the human intellectual society.
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Received June 25, 2020
Revision received August 8, 2021
Accepted October 14, 2021 n
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... More directly, sandbox games, which leave a player with freedom of choice by not providing any specific target, can be seen as fruitful digital environments for creativity by means of actual creation-given that players can utilize the in-game tools to explore their own ideas and transform them to a digital outcome. Minecraft, a 3D construction game, is among this genre and creative performance within the game was related to novelty and usefulness scores in more conventional (e.g., alternative uses task-AUT; [83]) creativity assessments-the usefulness component being more pronounced than often reported elsewhere [84]. Accordingly, games that ask for solutions to a specific problem (e.g., solving a puzzle) may still elicit various creative cognition processes when allowing for alternative routes to solving the problem, forcing a player to creatively combine tools at hand. ...
... More directly, sandbox games, which leave a player with freedom of choice by not providing any specific target, can be seen as fruitful digital environments for creativity by means of actual creation-given that players can utilize the in-game tools to explore their own ideas and transform them to a digital outcome. Minecraft, a 3D construction game, is among this genre and creative performance within the game was related to novelty and usefulness scores in more conventional (e.g., alternative uses task-AUT; [83]) creativity assessmentsthe usefulness component being more pronounced than often reported elsewhere [84]. Accordingly, games that ask for solutions to a specific problem (e.g., solving a puzzle) may still elicit various creative cognition processes when allowing for alternative routes to solving the problem, forcing a player to creatively combine tools at hand. ...
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