Mark A. Runco, PhDTorrance Professor of Creativity Studies University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
How do we recognize creativity of children? How does it differ from that of adults? Are children really creative? (!) What is the connection, child to adult? Is development fixed? Or can it be optimized?
Potential indicated by ideas & ideation Divergent thinking Open ended, ill defined tasks Fluency, flexibility, originality Reliable and some predictive validity Divergent thinking is not synonymous with creative talent. But surely it is meaningful when a child can produce original ideas and solve all kinds of problems (not just academic) in original and flexible fashion.
Knowledge Motivation Procedural Intrinsic Declarative ExtrinsicProblem-Finding Ideation Evaluation Fluency Definition Originality Valuation Identification Flexibility Critical EvaluationTwo-tier model of creative thinking. The three boxes on the primary tier represent stageswhich are influenced by knowledge and motivation.
Preconventional Norms, rules, fads, …all impossible Imagination and play Conventional Strict adherence to norms, rules, fads… Peer pressure Postconventional Aware of norms, rules, fads, but thinks for oneself In games, play, art, language, divergent thinking, moral reasoning, social behavior
Children 4th grade slump Original thinking & ideation Adults “Age & the rigidities” Flexibility Also trends in actual performance Math, age 20 Painting, “old age style” in 70s, 80s, 90s
Root-Bernstein et al. (1993) found some very successful scientists retain a youthful profile of scientific research well into old age.... scientific creativity need not decline. Another example of “old age style.” The reason: These “long-term, high-impact scientists” demonstrated that purposely placed themselves in the position of becoming a novice again every 5 or 10 years. In effect they became mentally young by starting over again.
Ideation varies, but largest difference is in judgments (the “two tier” model). Intentions, motivations, and knowledge also differ Difficulties Longitudinal vs. cross sectional methods Torrance 50 year study Transition to school? Or biology? Lopez et al. (1993) with bilingual Hispanics in US Ideational indicators changed at different rates Bilingualism contributing to creativity?
Nature and nurture Recent findings from genetic studies “first candidate gene” (DRD2) But fluency not originality Also, genes only provide Range of reaction Plenty of room for optimization One theory: opportunties models appropriate reinforcement
Mostly after age 40, mostly in flexibility Cross sectional bias in test wiseness Possibilties: “reduced physical or mental energy, declining sensory capacity, illness, increased competition and changes in motivation, interest or intellectual curiosity…. changes in physical vigor or sensory processes brought on by normal biological decline or disease processes may set a limit on an individuals creative accomplishments but not affect the persons creative ability.” Old age style shows increased creativity among highly talented artists Tactics and intentions
Age – creativity? Creativity-age! Creativity as adaptability, release, motivation “Writers die young,” but one explanation is that it is their choice to life a writer’s life. So why not choose a healthful and creative life?
Slumps and peaks have been found for both creative potential and for creative performances. The ages of those slumps and peaks vary. Trajectories are often described as multimodal, U-shaped, J-shaped, or as an inverted J. Various aspects of creative thinking seem to both develop and decline at different rates. Individual differences in both childhood and adulthood. Not all individuals show declines, just as not all persons fulfill potential and perform in an unambiguously creative fashion. Slumps and declines are therefore themselves potentials and presumably can be understood as having ranges of reaction. Creativity at all ages seems to involve certain decisions, choices, and preferences. In childhood, binges of interest and preferences for activities influence the development of creative skills, and in adulthood career choice and styles reflect investments in potential.