Skip to page content

Researchers to develop new measure of creativity

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Research,   Service and Community,   Spotlight

Two doctoral students in the CogNovo program at Plymouth University, United Kingdom are currently collaborating with professor Mark Runco in the University of Georgia's College of Education on a new study that aims to develop objective methods of creativity measurement.

Funded by Plymouth University and the European Union's Marie Skłodowska Curie initiative, Frank Loesche, a media computer scientist studying the eureka effect, and Vaibhav Tyagi, an engineer and neuroscientist studying value-based decision making in creative cognition, are developing a digitized test that measures creative potential without human judgment.

"There has been a lot of research on creativity, but most of that research has been quite subjective," said Tyagi. "The major problem is that these tests often avoid actually measuring, for example, the order of a person's response, which could give us an idea about how creative that person is. That information is often lost in these tests, and what we're trying to do is capture some of that information to see if we can use that to come up with new measures."

Last October, Runco, who teaches gifted and creative education in the Department of Educational Psychology, visited the two students in Plymouth, England to help develop the tasks that are being used to measure creative potential in participants. Since slight differences exist between American English and British English and the respective cultural background, Loesche and Tyagi are collecting evidence in both the U.S. and England to account for these factors. The same survey will be used in both countries.

After participants take a one-hour test on the computer, Loesche and Tyagi will analyze the different responses they produced for each question.

For example, one question may ask the participant to generate as many solutions to a problem they can think of in a set period of time. This is called divergent thinking, which is frequently assessed using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. To measure this process, tasks similar to parts of the Torrance Test will be applied in the collaborative study.

Today, most tests of creative potential are measured using four factors, including fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration. By conducting this study, the two researchers plan to develop a new method of creative measurement that reduces subjective thoughts from test graders like "Does this answer belong to category A or B?"

"While most previous research asks experts or some other subjects to rate creativity, we try to calculate all the measures on the computer," said Loesche. "We don't know where the research will lead us, but we are interested in adding to the current measures looking at how people react to the questions."

Loesche and Tyagi hope the results they gather in the U.S. will make creativity measurement more objective in the future.

"This can feed back into identifying talented students or adults and, in the long run, take out the subjectivity of gatekeepers in your career path," said Loesche. "They rate you on subjective measurements. But if you have more objective measurements, then [the process of identifying creative individuals] will become more fair."

Both Loesche and Tyagi will graduate in 2017 from the CogNovo program, a multi-national doctoral training network that offers research training in cognitive innovation, both as a new field of scientific investigation and as a strategy for research and innovation.

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602