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Priming for Creativity

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 11:03AM

Creativity is a very useful tool for humans. The ability to imagine and then do new things is what allows us to advance beyond where we are now in many ways. It is also something not perfectly understood. For example, we do not know if creativity can be taught or not, but it does appear we can prime people to be more creative. Researchers at Tel Aviv University successfully primed several children, aged six to nine years old, to be more creative than those who were not primed, just by showing them pictures.

The hypothesis the researchers were working on is that expansive thought can be used to encourage creativity. To stimulate expansive thought, half of the 55 child subjects were shown images from smallest to largest, starting with a close up of a pencil and ending on the Milky Way galaxy. The other subjects were shown the same images, but in reverse order. After being shown the images, the children were given creativity tests, such as the Tel Aviv Creativity Test (TACT) which asks a person to come up with different to use an object. Points are awarded based on the number of ideas and how creative the ideas are.

With the tests taken and scored, it was found that those children primed with expansive thoughts thought of more uses and more creative uses than the other children. While the question of if creativity can be taught may not be answered soon, this experiment supports the theory that creativity can be primed, which means those with less creativity can learn ways to improve. As creativity represents a mental flexibility that is needed for many human qualities, such an improvement could have large impacts and people's lives.

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