New Test Gauges Creativity
October 30, 2013

New Test Provides Easy Gauge For Creativity

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Researchers have devised a new test that is able to measure a person’s creativity and get to the bottom of what it takes to create. The new technique sets the stage for scientists to determine how the brain comes up with unusually creative ideas. Scientists believe there is a lot of hard work going on in the brain even when it seems as though coming up with an idea is effortless.

“We want to understand what makes creativity tick, what the specific processes are in the brain,” said neuroscientist Jeremy Gray of Michigan State University, lead author of the paper published in the journal Behavior Research Methods. “Innovation doesn’t just come for free – nobody learns their ABCs in kindergarten and suddenly writes a great novel or poem, for example. People need to master their craft before they can start to be creative in interesting ways.”

Researchers showed 193 participants a series of nouns and instructed them to respond creatively with a verb. For example, people shown the noun “chair” could give the answer “stand” instead of “sit,” which was considered a more creative answer because someone could stand on a chair to change a lightbulb. The team would check that the answers were verbs and somehow related to the noun.

Participants were also measured for creativity using a series of more in-depth methods like story writing, drawing and other creative achievements. The team found those who gave creative answers in the noun-verb test were the most creative as measured by the more in-depth methods, suggesting this test could be successful by itself in measuring creativity.

To further the study, the scientists are having participants complete the non-verb test in an MRI while their brain activity is recorded. This test is more feasible in an MRI than writing stories or drawing pictures since the machine requires the individual to remain still.

“Ultimately, this work could allow us to create better educational and training programs to help people foster their creativity,” Gray said. He added the study could also be helpful in settings where selecting creative people is important, such as in a human resources office.