Creativity Tests

Tests designed to measure creativity in children or adults.

Creativity tests 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 (1897–1987) 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 that encompassed all intellectual functions, including divergent thinking. A number of the ARP divergent thinking tests, which were originally devised as research instruments for the study of creativity, have been adapted by a variety of testing companies for use by educators in placing gifted students and evaluating gifted and talented programs. The ARP tests are divided into verbal and figural categories. Those that measure verbal ability include:

The figural ARP tests, which measure spatial aptitude, include the following:

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.

Rather than ways of thinking, some creativity tests evaluate attitudes, behavior, creative perception, or creative activity. Some creativity tests specifically address the problem of assessing creativity in minority populations, which are at a disadvantage in tests that place a strong emphasis on verbal and semantic ability. The Eby Gifted Behavior Index 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, and musical. The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal is a more analytical assessment of giftedness based on five components of critical thinking: inference, deduction, interpretation, awareness of assumptions, and evaluation of arguments.

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.

See also Creativity .



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