©1963, 2005
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When the editor of THE RADFORD REVIEW requested that I report on the paper delivered at the Southeastern Psychological Association last April by Dr. Robert E. Taylor and myself, my reaction as of anticipation and willingness. I am certain now that this was to a great extent due to the fact that, to my knowledge, it was the first time that an “art man” had ever had his ideas presented to a group of psychologists. This, however, was not to be the end of this delightful academic adventure. Of the thirty of forty papers read to the critical members of this organization, right were selected by one psychological journal for further development. Dr. Taylor’s and my paper. “The Stability of Creative Manipulation”, was one of these. Before I continue further in this report, I should like to confess that generally speaking art people (those off-beat somewhat strange individuals) either by training. Inclination, or just plain orneriness, are at best suspicious of the psychological approach to reality and at the worst actively antagonistic toward it. The success that we enjoyed can be attributed to the fact that Dr. Taylor is himself a craftsman and also to the fact that I have had experience working in an experimental psychological laboratory. Our insights and our approaches may differ, but because of these overlapping of interest areas we were able to communicate effectively. I am forced to use an obstetrical term when attempting to express my gratitude to Dr. Taylor for delivering me of this idea. To the psychologist the question of the “stability” of creative manipulation is a very important one. If anything is to be measured statistically, it is important that the results of the tests selected to measure the variable be consistent; or, if they are not consistent, that their inconsistency be explained. The work that Dr. Taylor did on a task o devised while at the Bureau of Educational Research at the University of Minnesota performed this function. This task, called the Creativity Design Task, was a device used to determine the extent of creative behavior of subjects employing non-verbal material. Many students at

Radford College will recall that they were asked to assist in an experiment involving colored pieces of paper of different shapes and sizes. Much of the credit for this established “stability” goes to them as well as to those students who assisted both Dr. Taylor and me in these experiments and others related to them. And, not so incidentally, one must give credit to the institution which encourages creative and investigative activity of this nature on the part of its faculty and student body.* The Creativity Design Task is a means by which artistic creative activity may be examined and evaluated. A subject is given thirty minutes in which to make any design or designs of his choosing with the material mentioned above. A scoring system was developed which reflects the extent to which a subject manipulates or alters these basic materials. The object is to capture some portion of the interaction, which takes place between the creator and his medium. The work, which Dr. Taylor did with the Creativity Design Task indicates that this task is surprising reliable. “Surprisingly” is an appropriate word here because tests of creativity have frequently been found to be unreliable due, we suppose, to the nature of the creative personality. The creative person frequently moves off the track, so to speak, and in so doing his behavior becomes less predictable, and depending upon the time when tasks designed to test a creative person’s creativity are administered, a task may suffer in any test of its reliability. It may be that Dr. Taylor and I were only lucky, but it does appear that the Creativity Design Task is more reliable than many other tests of creativity. That is, of course, very reassuring, for in this particular case the test-re-test reliability co-efficient for 72 subjects was .7370. A perfect coefficient of correlation would be 1.00, a result extremely difficult if not impossible to obtain. This, in substance, is what all the excitement is about. A sensitive artist and critic, however, would probably add that none of this was really necessary anyway because one can readily distinguish what is “good” art from what is “bad” art and it takes only “intelligent observation” to realize that a creative artist is not creative all of the time, that he experiences moments of aridness, or, as Marcus Aurelius put it: “Time is like a river made up of the events that happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.”

Jules Henry’s description seems to me to characterize many a young person who shows evidence of creativeness: “In the beginning creative activity is like a criminal eluding the police by losing himself in the crowd.” There are reasons why “creative” people would prefer to lose themselves in a crowd. They are aware that many of their interests are not conforming interests. They tend to reject the demand of their society that they surrender their individuality. Frank Baron has said, “their autonomy is precious to them.” James MacKinnon has interpreted his findings concerning the creative person to suggest that they are less interested in detail the practical or the concrete, and more concerned with meanings and implications than the less creative. W. Lambert Brittain states that a creative person would have rich experiences, would interact freely with his environment, would be able t use his experiences in new situations and would be able to focus many pertinent ideas upon a problem. Such a person is flexible, possesses an abundance of energy, and alters displeasing situations by invention. Some of us here have tried to discover the nature of the creative student at Radford. Although we have not completed our studies nor written them up in an acceptable psychological fashion as yet I do not think it inappropriate to report some of them here in, at least, a tentative fashion. In the last school year (1962-1963), three students who are majors in psychology offered me the opportunity to continue some experimentation along these lines. Miss Anna Philips, Miss Elaine Corsetti, and Miss Theresa Cunningham asked whether I would be willing to help them in some psychological techniques of experimental testing and statistical tabulation if they would assist me in my interests in these directions. The arrangement worked out very well, I believe. We conducted a series of tests. using The Creativity Design Task and two other devices: H.J. Eysenck’s “Short Questionnaire for measuring Two Dimensions of Personality” and B.F. Berdie’s “Femininity Adjective Check List.” In addition to these we gathered as much information concerning the past experiences of the subjects as we could. Some of the findings below might be of interest to some of you. We ask you to remember that the population (N=80) used was a population of all girls, most of whom were freshmen.

Assuming that our methods were appropriate and our calculations correct, we found that there was a negative correlation (-.4155) between scores obtained on the femininity scale and the number of children that were in the family. This correlation was found to be significant at the .01 level and could indicate that the greater number of children in a family would tend to encourage the more aggressive personality aspects, which in this society we consider masculine. We also found that there was a negative correlation (-.6499) between the number of children in a family and the extrovert scale of Eysenck. This might mean that the more children there are in a family, the less extrovert any one child might be. It would seem more reasonable to me, however, to say that the child becomes more reflective as a result of his early and constant exposure to many individuals. The average number of siblings in this group was 3.23, that is, most of the subjects came from families with three or more children. One of the more reassuring findings concerned travel experience. In this area we obtained a positive correlation (.5510) between the Aesthetic Total and The Creativity Design Task and the number of states in the United States, which these subjects had visited. This should mean that the more travel a person has done, the more creative he may be. This is certainly consistent with the findings of other psychologists, which indicate that a creative person is more open to a variety of experiences. Interestingly enough, however, we also found that there was a positive correlation (.3396) between this kind of travel and the score on the extrovert scale. One would guess from this that the creative person is creative enough to maintain two levels of existence, that is, he is able to maintain relationships with other people, and, perhaps, to enjoy them, as well as to maintain a rich inner life from which we assume most creative interests and behavior arise. It is, in part, a measure of the complexity of the creative personality that e obtain a higher positive correlation (.8094) between the score on the Neurotic Scale of Eysenck and the Aesthetic Total of The Creativity Design task. This correlation is more in keeping with the findings of others, which suggest that the creative person is more neurotic than the less creative person. There were a number of other significant correlations obtained which we do not have space to report on here, but I think it appropriate to

conclude with two of the more interesting of these. Earlier findings were confirmed which suggest that the creative person tends to manipulate non-verbal material to a greater extent and to be more fluent with ideas than the less creative, and also that the chronological standing of the subject within the family tends to have a definite effect upon scores achieved on the Aesthetic Total of The Creativity Design Task. In this connection we obtained a positive correlation (.5303), which with our data, indicated that the second born within the family might be more creative than the first. Once again, assuming that we have proceeded in correct fashion, we would extend our interpretation of this finding to indicate that the children born after the first born might be more creative as a result of their coming into an environment already populated with diverse personalities to which they must react. This interpretation would not be inconsistent with the other findings [pointing up the relationship between varied experience – such as travel – and creative achievement. *At this time, some forty years after the original report was written it may seem a useless gesture to point out that the appreciation expressed in the body of the report toward the administration of this college for its having supported academic research was much to hastily expressed. In short, it wasn’t true. There was no support. In fact, the administration of Radford College under Charles Knox Martin was a travesty on the ideals expressed by the academic life. He was no friend to learning, he tolerated no divergence , he was an arch racist and inveterate bigot, socially and religiously. I make this statement now not so much to readjust any interpretation history may have made about this man as to warn any developing personality with similar aspirations of controlling the mental lives of others that this is dangerous territory to trespass. I would also like to strongly suggest that those governmental agencies which control the hiring of administrators of public institutions consider the wisdom in preferring former military men for such positions. Their mind sets are generally in opposition to those of the philosopher academic and certainly foreign to those of a creative artist. Paul Henrickson, Ph.D. Gozo