Creativity

Running head: CREATIVITY Measuring Creativity in Research and Practice Barbara Kerr and Camea Gagliardi Arizona State University Creativity is that characteristic of human behavior that seems the most mysterious, and yet most critical to human advancement. The capacity to solve problems in new ways and to produce works that are novel, appropriate, and socially valued is an ability that has fascinated people for centuries. Most creativity research concerns the nature of creative thinking, the distinctive characteristics of the creative person, the development of creativity across the individual life span, and the social environments most strongly associated with creative activity (Simonton, 2000). This research can help counselors who are committed to a positive psychology to assess creative thinking and to identify creative traits in their clients. Counselors can use this knowledge to help clients overcome both internal and environmental barriers to the development of creative lives. Many of the studies of creativity have been driven by the desire to identify those children who are most likely to profit from programs for developing giftedness or the desire to identify adults who are likely to be innovative in science, business, and industry. Counselors who want to respond to clients’ strengths and who want to seek positive directions for counseling often focus on creativity. Assessment plays a part in all of these activities.

In this chapter we will address numerous challenges that counselors measuring creativity must consider, including the multiplicity of definitions and measures of creativity, the psychological and contextual variables that enhance or block it, and the need to use measurement appropriately in the broader context of assessing creativity. Then, we will identify measures of the creative process and the creative person, apply creativity measurement and assessment to counseling, and discuss future directions for the field.
Creativity

Measurement Issues to Consider Many Definitions, Many Measures The definition of creativity is elusive. Although most researchers agree upon such aspects of creativity as originality, appropriateness, and the production of works of value to society, they have had difficulty agreeing upon appropriate instruments and methods in operationalizing these concepts. The insufficiency of most creativity measures to capture the complex concept of creativity has been well established. Three decades ago, Treffinger, Renzulli, and Feldhusen (1971) argued that as a result of the lack of a unified, widely-accepted theory of creativity, researchers and educators “have been confronted with several difficulties: establishing a useful operational definition, understanding the implications of differences among tests and test administration procedures, and understanding the relationship of creativity to other human abilities” (p. 107). Sternberg (2001) argues that creativity should not be considered in isolation from other constructs of human abilities; rather, it is best understood in a societal context. He

suggests that the “common thread” in the prolific research literature is the interrelations or “dialectic” among intelligence, wisdom, and creativity, where intelligence advances existing societal agendas, creativity questions them and proposes new ones, and wisdom balances the old with the new. Yet, the many challenges in operationalizing and assessing creativity are still being confronted today. And, the proliferation of hundreds of creativity tests, some of which hold up better under psychometric scrutiny than others, exacerbate the criterion problem for creative research. These concerns leave us asking an important question. What is it exactly that creativity researchers are studying? Some researchers in the field choose to consider the multiplicity of measures as3
Creativity

indicative of a viable, dynamic, creative field. Houtz and Krug (1995) suggest “Multiple instruments and methods permit flexibility and adaptability to new problems and situations, maximum theory development, and application to real-world problems “ (p. 273). Irrespective of one’s position on whether criterion variation is problematic, the evaluation of creativity tests fair much better when considered in light of recent advances in the field and when they are interpreted with the appropriate limitations. What Do Creativity Instruments Predict? Many of the available creativity instruments can identify divergent thinking or ideational fluency but fail to predict future creative behavior. In many cases, children identified by creativity measures have not produced significant creative works as adults. However, Plucker and Runco (1998) argued that the “death of creativity measurement

has been greatly exaggerated” (p. 36), discussing advancements not only in the predictive validity of the measurements in existence but, importantly, in the utility of broadening the scope of creativity measurement to include personal definitions and theories of creativity. Weak predictive validity coefficients may be attributed to weak methodology rather than weak psychometrics, and may include studies too short in duration, inadequate statistical procedures for nonnormally distributed data, and poorly operationalized outcome criteria in longitudinal studies. Moreover, explicit definitions and theories of creativity, while useful in many traditional studies, do not access the wealth of information inherent in individuals’ personal beliefs about creativity. Plucker and Runco (1998) suggest that when people engage in creative activity “their thoughts and actions are guided by personal definitions of creativity and beliefs about how to foster and evaluate creativity that may be very different from the theories developed by creativity experts” (p. 37). Creating instruments which correspond well with the impalicit theories of the people completing them not only addresses the definitional problem, but yields a socially vaild techniqe for instrument design which is particularly sensitie to cross-cultural and discipline-specific research questions. Creativity in context Measuring creativity in isolation from other psychological and contextual variables is also problematic . in a groundbreaking examination of creative people, Csikszentmihalyi (1996) studied one hundred individuals who had produced works that were publicly acknowledges as creative and who had all impacted their culture in some important way. In this comprehensive

study of scientists, artists, writers, educations, proliticians and social activists, engineers, and religious leaders, he found that the first and foremost characteristic of the creative individuals is mastery of a domain of knowledge or skill. Without mastery of a domain, diverse thinking or ideational fluency and not likely to lead to creative products. These creative individuals, for the most part , had normal childhoods and families that provided them with a solid set of values. They, however, differed significantly from others in the high proportion of them whom had suffered a parental loss, particularly the loss of a father. Commonly, they had other supportive adults in their lives who encouraged them to use their loss as an opportunity to create their own identities. Creative indivisduals had little good to say about school; in many ways, general schooling was irrelevant to these profoundly curious and self-guided young people. Only in college and advenced training did they find a match between their interests and those of others, in mentors and significant teachers who provided the knowledge they desired so intensely. As adults, these creative people had circuitous paths to their carees.