Tests designed to measure creativity in children or adults.
Creativity tests, mostly devised during the past 30 years, are aimed at assessing the qualities and abilities that constitute creativity. These tests evaluate mental abilities in ways that are different from—and even diametrically opposed to—conventional intelligence tests. Because the kinds of abilities measured by creativity tests differ from those measured by intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, persons with the highest scores on creativity tests do not necessarily have the highest IQs. Creative people tend to have IQs that are at least average if not above average, but beyond a score of 120 there is little correlation between performance on intelligence and creativity tests.
Most creativity tests in use today are based at least partially on the theory of creativity evolved by J. P. Guilford in the 1950s. Guilford posited that the ability to envision multiple solutions to a problem lay at the core of creativity. He called this process divergent thinking and its opposite—the tendency to narrow all options to a single solution—convergent thinking. Guilford identified three components of divergent thinking: fluency (the ability to quickly find multiple solutions to a problem); flexibility (being able to simultaneously consider a variety of alternatives); and originality (referring to ideas that differ from those of other people). Early tests designed to assess an individual's aptitude for divergent thinking included the Torrance (1962) and Meeker (1969) tests.
The most extensive work on divergent thinking was done under Guilford's direction at the University of Southern California by the Aptitudes Research Project (ARP), whose findings between the 1950s and 1970s produced a broad structure-of-intellect (SI) model which
- Word Fluency: writing words containing a given letter
- Ideational Fluency: naming things that belong to a given class (i.e., fluids that will burn)
- Associational Fluency: writing synonyms for a specified word
- Expressional Fluency: writing four-word sentences in which each word begins with a specified letter
- Alternate Uses: listing as many uses as possible for a given object
- Plot Titles: writing titles for short-story plots
- Consequences: listing consequences for a hypothetical event ("What if no one needed to sleep?")
- Possible Jobs: list all jobs that might be symbolized by a given emblem
The figurai ARP tests, which measure spatial aptitude, include the following:
- Making Objects: drawing specified objects using only a given set of shapes, such as a circle, square, etc.
- Sketches: elaborating on a given figure to produce sketches of recognizable items
- Match Problems: removing a specified number of matchsticks from a diagram to produce a specified number of geometric shapes
- Decorations: using as many different designs as possible to outline drawings of common objects
Divergent thinking tests are generally evaluated based on the number and variety of answers provided; the originality of the answers; and the amount of detail they contain (a characteristic referred to as elaboration). A number of creativity tests currently in use include sections that measure divergent thinking. The Creativity Assessment Packet (ages 6-18) is composed of Test of Divergent Thinking as well as Divergent Feelings Test that measures traits including imagination, curiosity, risk-taking, and complexity. A Divergent Production subtest is part of the Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students (SAGES) (ages 7-13), together with a Reasoning subtest that emphasizes the identification of relationships and a multiple-choice School Acquired Information subtest. The goals of the Test of Creative Potential (TCP) (ages 2-adult) are described using the language of divergent thinking theory: fluency, flexibility, and elaboration. Like the ARP tests, it has a figurai section (Picture Decoration) to measure nonverbal ability, as well as a verbal section and a symbolic section. Among the oldest of the divergent thinking tests are the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) (ages 5-adult), which also have both verbal and figurai sections and measure fluency and other standard categories.
Rather than ways of thinking, some creativity tests evaluate attitudes (based on the child's answers), behavior (based on descriptions by an observer familiar with the child, usually a parent or teacher), creative perception, or creative activity. The Creativity Attitude Survey (CAS) (grades 4-6), composed of 32 statements for which the child indicates agreement or disagreement, assesses confidence in one's own ideas; appreciation of fantasy; theoretical and aesthetic orientation; openness to impulse expression; and desire for novelty. The Preschool and Kindergarten Interest Descriptor (PRIDE) (ages 3-6) is one of the tests completed by an observer rather than by the person being evaluated. It includes 50 items that assess children's behavior in the following areas: Independence-Perseverance, Imagination-Playfulness, Originality, and Many Interests. The Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students (SRBCSS) (child and adolescent) include 95 questions by which teachers evaluate students in such areas as motivation, leadership, art, music, dramatics, and both precise and expressive communication. The Creativity Checklist (CCL) (grades K-graduate school) is also filled out by an observer; it measures resourcefulness, constructional skill, ingenuity or productiveness, independence, and positive self-referencing behavior, as well as the more standard fluency, flexibility, and complexity that are common to divergent thinking tests.
Some creativity tests specifically address the problem of assessing creativity in minority populations, who are at a disadvantage in tests that place a strong emphasis on verbal and semantic ability. The SOI-Learning Abilities Test (ages 2-adult) includes such categories as constancy of objects in space; auditory attention; psychomotor readiness; auditory concentration for sequencing; and symbolic problem-solving. The use of creativity tests such as this can aid in identifying gifted minority students, who, as a group, do not perform as well on standard IQ tests as non-minority students and are thus overlooked in the allocation of resources for talented students. (In one minority-populated school in Florida, only four out of 650 students were labeled as gifted according to aptitude standard tests.) The Eby Gifted Behavior Index (all ages) reflects the growing view of creativity as specific to different domains. It is divided into six talent fields: verbal, social/leadership, visual/spatial, math/science problem-solving, mechanical/technical,
Creativity tests have been found reliable in the sense that one person's scores tend to remain similar across a variety of tests. However, their validity has been questioned in terms of their ability to predict the true creative potential of those who take them. In one study, there was little correlation between the scores of both elementary and secondary students on divergent thinking tests and their actual achievements in high school in such creative fields as art, drama, and science. Creativity tests have also been criticized for unclear instructions, lack of suitability for different populations, and excessive narrowness in terms of what they measure. In addition, it may be impossible for any test to measure certain personal traits that are necessary for success in creative endeavors, such as initiative, self-confidence, tolerance of ambiguity, motivation, and perseverance. Tests also tend to create an anxiety-producing situation that may distort the scores of some test takers. Teresa Amabile, a well-known researcher in the field of creativity, has advocated assessing creativity by observing a child's creative activities in a natural setting, such as painting or storytelling.
Critiques of tests that involve divergent thinking have also been based on the conclusion of many researchers that creative accomplishment actually requires both divergent and convergent thinking. Besides being original, the successful solution to a problem must also be appropriate to its purposes, and convergent thinking allows one to evaluate one's ideas and reject them if they cannot withstand further scrutiny.
Amabile, Teresa. The Social Psychology of Creativity. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1983.
——. Growing Up Creative: Nurturing a Lifetime of Creativity. New York: Crown Publishers, 1989.
Guilford, J. P. The Nature of Human Intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.
Sternberg, R. J. The Nature of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Torrance, E. P. Guiding Creative Talent. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962.