The death of creativity measurement has been greatly exaggerated: current issues, recent advances, and future directions in creativity assessment.
Current work on creativity is based on methodologies which either are psychometric psy·cho·met·rics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The branch of psychology that deals with the design, administration, and interpretation of quantitative tests for the measurement of psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and in nature or were developed in response to perceived weaknesses of creativity measurement. However, psychometric perspectives on creativity are still a vibrant and vital area of study. Considerable evidence of validity (or lack thereof) has been gathered for a diverse set of instruments and assessment techniques, and the resulting improvement in measurement quality has opened the door to several exciting areas of research. We review some of the current issues, describe recent advances, and suggest future directions for psychometric approaches to creativity research.
The study of human creativity is currently receiving a great deal of attention from educators, researchers, and theorists. While much contemporary thought on creativity is moving away from psychometric perspectives toward more postmodern post·mod·ern
Of or relating to art, architecture, or literature that reacts against earlier modernist principles, as by reintroducing traditional or classical elements of style or by carrying modernist styles or practices to extremes: approaches (Feist feist also fice
n. Chiefly Southern U.S.
A small mongrel dog.
[Variant of obsolete fist, short for fisting dog, from Middle English fisting, & Runco, 1993; Runco, Nemiro, & Walberg, 1998), practically all current work on creativity is based upon methodologies which either are psychometric in nature or were developed in response to perceived weaknesses of creativity measurement (Plucker pluck
v. plucked, pluck·ing, plucks
1. To remove or detach by grasping and pulling abruptly with the fingers; pick: pluck a flower; pluck feathers from a chicken. & Renzulli, in press). As such, psychometric studies of creativity conducted in the previous few decades form the foundation of current understandings of creativity. A review of psychometric creativity techniques Creativity techniques are heuristic methods to facilitate creativity in a person or a group of people. Generally, most creativity techniques use associations between the goal (or the problem), the current state (which may be an imperfect solution to the problem), and some stimulus benefits both individuals attempting to measure creativity and individuals studying creativity via other techniques.
The purpose of this article is to discuss a few of the current concerns about creativity measurement and possible future directions for research and practice in this area. Readers interested in comprehensive descriptions of psychometric approaches to creativity and divergent thinking Noun 1. divergent thinking - thinking that moves away in diverging directions so as to involve a variety of aspects and which sometimes lead to novel ideas and solutions; associated with creativity
out-of-the-box thinking are directed toward recent reviews of the topic (Davis, 1989; Hocevar & Bachelor, 1989; Plucker & Renzulli, in press; Runco, 1991, in press).
a. Able to express oneself readily and effortlessly: a fluent speaker; fluent in three languages.
b. as a Contaminating con·tam·i·nate
tr.v. con·tam·i·nated, con·tam·i·nat·ing, con·tam·i·nates
1. To make impure or unclean by contact or mixture.
2. To expose to or permeate with radioactivity.
Divergent thinking (DT) tests are among the most popular techniques for measuring creativity in educational settings (Hunsaker & Callahan, 1995; Runco, 1992a). These tests, also referred to as measures of ideational i·de·ate
v. i·de·at·ed, i·de·at·ing, i·de·ates
To form an idea of; imagine or conceive: "Such characters represent a grotesquely blown-up aspect of an ideal man . . . fluency, generally require students to provide as many responses as possible to prompts such as, "List things that make noise" or "List things that have wheels." Among the most popular DT tests are the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (Torrance, 1974) and the Wallach and Kogan (1965) tests. Responses are usually scored for originality o·rig·i·nal·i·ty
n. pl. o·rig·i·nal·i·ties
1. The quality of being original.
2. The capacity to act or think independently.
3. Something original.
Noun 1. (statistical infrequency) and fluency (number of responses).
Several researchers have noted that fluency can be a contaminating influence on originality scores -- if fluency is controlled, reliability evidence for originality scores is often very poor (Clark & Mirels, 1970; Hocevar, 1979c; Runco & Albert, 1985; Seddon, 1983). While several suggestions have been made regarding techniques for removing the influence of fluency on originality (e.g., Clark & Mirels, 1970, Hocevar, 1979a, 1979b; Hocevar & Michael, 1979), few studies have evaluated and compared the various suggestions with respect to the reliability and validity evidence for resulting originality scores.
For example, researchers have suggested that DT tests be administered so that every person provides the same number of answers, that originality scores be subjectively determined by external raters, that percentage scoring formulas be used, or that some combination of these techniques be employed (Clark & Mirels, 1970; Hocevar, 1979a; Hocevar & Michael, 1979; Runco & Mraz, 1992). Additionally, the possibility that individuals can subjectively rate the originality of their own responses has yet to be investigated in this context (cf. Runco & Smith, 1992).
Perhaps most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially , the relative impact of these methods on concurrent validity concurrent validity,
n the degree to which results from one test agree with results from other, different tests. has not been examined. Hocevar and Michael (1979) correctly observed that a majority of psychometric studies of DT test scores concentrated on obtaining evidence of reliability and convergent validity Convergent validity is the degree to which an operation is similar to (converges on) other operations that it theoretically should also be similar to. For instance, to show the convergent validity of a test of mathematics skills, the scores on the test can be correlated with scores , while little evidence was gathered of discriminant validity Discriminant validity describes the degree to which the operationalization is not similar to (diverges from) other operationalizations that it theoretically should not be similar to. . Consequently, subsequent research attempted to answer the discriminant validity questions but overlooked issues related to convergent validity (i.e., How do the various techniques for controlling for fluency impact correlations between DT originality scores and external criteria of creativity?) and more practical issues (i.e., How do each of the various techniques impact who is admitted to gifted and talented programs?). Although Runco and his colleagues (e.g., Runco, 1985; Runco & Mraz, 1992; Runco, Okuda, & Thurston, 1987) have conducted several studies to investigate the impact of various DT scoring techniques, similar studies explicitly comparing techniques for controlling fluency have yet to be completed. Issues of convergent validity need to be addressed in order for us to gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of fluency on originality.
Creativity has lately been considered to be content specific (Baer, 1993). That is, creative activity within one content area is independent of creativity in other content areas. Both theoretical and empirical evidence have appeared to support the notion that creativity is content specific (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988; Gardner, 1993; Runco, 1989b; Stemberg & Lubart, 1995). Indeed, Baer (1994a, 1994b, 1994c) argues that creativity is also task specific within content areas.
However, the issue of creative content generality-specificity is not without controversy. For example, Plucker (in press-c) questioned the conclusions drawn from content specificity research, suggesting that results appearing to support task specific views of creativity were merely providing evidence of a method effect: Specificity research generally uses alternative assessments of creativity, which is problematic due to the bias of alternative assessments in favor of task specificity.
In a recent debate, arguments were made in support of content specificity (Baer, in press) and content generality gen·er·al·i·ty
n. pl. gen·er·al·i·ties
1. The state or quality of being general.
2. An observation or principle having general application; a generalization.
3. (Plucker, in press-a). In general, the participants agreed that the compelling issue is determining the conditions under which creativity is task and content specific and the conditions under which creativity is content general. Taking that logic a step further, researchers should try to identify those aspects of creative production that are task specific and those that are generally applied (i.e., perhaps creative self-efficacy, certain cognitive skills cognitive skill Psychology Any of a number of acquired skills that reflect an individual's ability to think; CSs include verbal and spatial abilities, and have a significant hereditary component ) during each creative moment.
Predictive Validity In psychometrics, predictive validity is the extent to which a scale predicts scores on some criterion measure.
For example, the validity of a cognitive test for job performance is the correlation between test scores and, for example, supervisor performance ratings.
More than any other factor, the perceived lack of predictive validity for DT tests (Baer, 1993; Gardner, 1993; Kogan & Pankove, 1974; Weisberg, 1993) has led researchers and educators to avoid the use of these tests (Plucker & Renzulli, in press). The definitive critique of DT tests' validity was supplied by Wallach (1976), who observed that "subjects vary widely and systematically in their attainments - yet little if any of that systematic variation is captured by individual differences on ideational fluency tests" (p. 60).
Many possible reasons for weak predictive validity coefficients represent weaknesses in methodology more than weaknesses in psychometric approaches to creativity research. For example, studies may be too short in duration, and inadequate statistical procedures may be employed in the presence of nonnormally distributed data (Hocevar & Bachelor, 1989; Plucker & Renzulli, in press; Torrance, 1979). Indeed, researchers who have addressed at least a few of these weaknesses (e.g., Hong, Milgram, & Gorsky, 1995; Milgram & Hong, 1993; Okuda, Runco, & Berger, 1991; Plucker, in press-b; Sawyers & Canestaro, 1989) have collected positive evidence of predictive validity.
Another methodological factor that may have a negative impact on the predictive validity of DT test scores is the reliance on ineffective outcome criteria in longitudinal studies longitudinal studies,
n.pl the epidemiologic studies that record data from a respresentative sample at repeated intervals over an extended span of time rather than at a single or limited number over a short period. . For example, Runco (1986) stressed that both quantity and quality of creative achievement should be included as outcome variables, in contrast to a traditional reliance on quantity. Again, studies including both types of outcome variables provide considerably improved support for the predictive validity of DT tests (e.g., Plucker, in press-b). Runco (in press) has developed a criterion measure that is directly related to ideation ideation /ide·a·tion/ (i?de-a´shun) the formation of ideas or images.idea´tional
The formation of ideas or mental images. , which is what DT should predict - rather than, for example, achievement in crafts or some verbal domain. Plucker and Runco (in preparation) are developing a similar ideation checklist. Many of the remaining critics of DT tests' predictive validity are individuals who are primarily critical of psychometric methodologies in general and not specifically of DT tests (e.g., Gardner, 1988, 1993; see Plucker & Renzulli, in press).
Perhaps the most exciting development in recent years, both in creativity measurement and the social sciences in general, is related to implicit or folk theories of psychological constructs. In contrast to traditional studies that rely on experts' definitions and theories of creativity (i.e., explicit theories), these researchers assess individuals' personal definitions of creativity (i.e., implicit theories). From a practical standpoint, when people engage in creative activity, they do not have explicit theories in mind. 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. An understanding of implicit theories provides both researchers and practitioners with insight into creativity.
The study of implicit theories has yielded considerable benefits in three areas related to creativity assessment: straightforward analyses of implicit theories, socially valid techniques for instrument design, and improved strategies for evaluating creative products. In the first area, researchers have found that adjectives such as adventurous ad·ven·tur·ous
1. Inclined to undertake new and daring enterprises.
2. Hazardous; risky.
ad·ven , artistic, and curious are generally included in adults' implicit theories of children's creativity (Runco, 1984, 1989b; Runco & Bahleda, 1986; Runco, Johnson, & Bear, 1993); teachers and parents hold similar implicit definitions of creativity, although teachers emphasize social characteristics (e.g., friendly, easy-going eas·y·go·ing also eas·y-go·ing
a. Living without undue worry or concern; calm.
b. Lax or negligent; careless.
c. ) to a greater extent than parents (Runco et al., 1993); and college students' implicit definitions of creativity, intelligence, and wisdom are quite different, with each set of definitions similar - but not identical -- to the corresponding set of explicit definitions (Stemberg, 1985, 1990). Cross-cultural and discipline-specific comparisons of implicit creativity theories have yet to be conducted comprehensively and will have important implications for practitioners.
The use of social validation techniques to develop and validate creativity tests and rating scales has also become increasingly common. In these techniques, a target group's implicit theories are used to create creativity rating scales for use with other members of that group. For example, in creating a scale for teachers to use to rate students' creativity, Runco (1984) first conducted a study to identify characteristics that teachers generally included in their implicit theories of children's creativity. The characteristics were used to create the Teachers' Evaluation of Students' Creativity (TESC TESC The Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington)
TESC Thomas Edison State College (Trenton, NJ)
TESC The Educated Sports Community
TESC Temporary Erosion Sedimentation Control ), which was further modified to increase ease of use and reliability (Runco, 1984). This process produces a socially valid instrument (i.e., one which corresponds well with the implicit theories of the person completing it). Furthermore, the social validation process, which has also been used in the development of parent and student scales, aids in the production of instruments that can be used as criterion in concurrent validity studies of DT tests and other creativity measures (Miller & Sawyers, 1989; Runco, 1984, 1987, 1989b).
A third area in which the impact of implicit creativity theory research can be felt is the evaluation of creative products. While external evaluation of creative products has been popular for many years (Amabile, 1982; Besemer & O'Quin, 1993; Besemer & Treffinger, 1981; Reis & Renzulli, 1991), implicit theory research has led to some recommendations for new procedures.
First, providing explicit guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. for evaluating the creativity of a product may not be necessary or desirable (Amabile, 1990, 1996; Runco, 1989a). Amabile's (1996) development of and work with the Consensual CONSENSUAL, civil law. This word is applied to designate one species of contract known in the civil laws; these contracts derive their name from the consent of the parties which is required in their formation, as they cannot exist without such consent.
2. Assessment Technique provides evidence that people can reliably evaluate the creativity of a product with relatively little training when an amorphous Unorganized or vague. A lack of structure. For example, the amorphous state of a spot on a rewritable optical disc means that the laser beam will not be reflected from it, which is in contrast to a crystalline state which will reflect light. See crystalline. definition of creativity is used as the basis for evaluation. This training technique (or lack thereof), capitalizes on the general convergence in people's implicit theories of creativity (i.e., people know creativity when they see it).
Second, Amabile's technique generally calls for the use of expert judges during product assessment (e.g., expert judges of an artistic product should be professional artists). However, recent research has illustrated that intrapersonal in·tra·per·son·al
Existing or occurring within the individual self or mind.
intra·per and interpersonal in·ter·per·son·al
1. Of or relating to the interactions between individuals: interpersonal skills.
2. evaluative skills are not highly correlated cor·re·late
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.
2. when applied to the evaluation of creative products (Runco & Chand, 1994; Runco, 1992b, Runco & Smith, 1992; Simonton, 1988). Choosing judges is not as easy as it appears at first glance.
While recent developments have been significant, they have illuminated il·lu·mi·nate
v. il·lu·mi·nat·ed, il·lu·mi·nat·ing, il·lu·mi·nates
1. To provide or brighten with light.
2. To decorate or hang with lights.
3. the need for additional theoretical and empirical efforts. Given the current issues and recent developments in creativity assessment, in what directions can and should researchers focus their efforts?
Broadened Application of Psychometric Methods
For the past few decades, psychometric creativity research focused rather narrowly on the analysis of DT test scores and personality checklists. Fortunately, the focus of the field has widened to include other aspects of creativity, including systems of creative activity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988; Rubenson & Runco, 1992; Sternberg & Lubart, 1995), everyday or "little c" creativity (Richards, 1990), social, affective affective /af·fec·tive/ (ah-fek´tiv) pertaining to affect.
1. Concerned with or arousing feelings or emotions; emotional.
2. , and motivational aspects of creativity (Amabile, 1996; Simonton, 1988), and expanded views of cognitive aspects of creativity (Smith, Ward, & Finke, 1995; Ward, Smith, & Vaid This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling.
You can assist by [ editing it] now. , 1997), such as problem-finding and evaluation (Runco, 1993, 1994).
The challenge for researchers is to include these new and expanded perspectives of creativity in psychometric investigations of creativity. At the same time, a great deal of information on aspects of DT, especially the interaction of originality, fluency, and flexibility, remains to be uncovered. For example, questions surrounding the impact of technology use (e.g., access to the Internet) on originality and flexibility have yet to be investigated comprehensively. Also, the study of the impact of time on creativity can now be expanded to include variables representing evaluation, problem finding, ideation, and motivation. By expanding conceptions of creativity and assessment, more realistic models and theories can be tested and evaluated.
Reliance on Batteries of Assessments
Research and debate on predictive validity, content specificity-generality, and implicit theories provide concrete reasons for the use of multiple indicators of creativity. This recommendation entails both the use of several measures of creativity and the use of several different types of measures (e.g., DT tests, product assessments, personality measures, activity checklists, teacher, parent, peer, and self ratings).
While implicit theory and social validation research has led to improved teacher, parent, student, peer, and product rating scales, the scales can still be improved to produce more reliable and valid results than those presently attainable. In the same vein, the controversy over content specificity has called attention to the paucity pau·ci·ty
1. Smallness of number; fewness.
2. Scarcity; dearth: a paucity of natural resources. of reliable and valid measures of creativity within specific areas, such as musical creativity (Baltzer, 1988), and predictive validity controversies highlighted the need for the development of more appropriate outcome measures.
Implicit in Adj. 1. implicit in - in the nature of something though not readily apparent; "shortcomings inherent in our approach"; "an underlying meaning"
underlying, inherent our discussion is the need for additional reliability and validity studies of instruments and techniques for measuring creativity. After all, much of the research cited in this article occurred after or at approximately the same time as published pronouncements of the futility Futility
See also Despair, Frustration.
American Scene, The
portrays Americans as having secured necessities; now looking for amenities. [Am. Lit.: The American Scene]
performs the useless and supererogatory. [Fr. of measuring creativity. Continued validity studies can only have a positive impact on the work of researchers and educators.
Translation into Practice
Creativity researchers face one particular problem that is not always shared with other investigators of psychological phenomenon: The need to translate our work into practice. With the renewed emphasis in creativity as an educational outcome, which can only grow given the popularity of creativity in business circles, nearly all creativity assessment efforts can have an immediate impact on school and classroom practice. Researchers should consider this impact when disseminating dis·sem·i·nate
v. dis·sem·i·nat·ed, dis·sem·i·nat·ing, dis·sem·i·nates
1. To scatter widely, as in sowing seed.
2. results. For example, when evaluating student creative products, researchers are generally cautioned to use different groups of evaluators due to differences in evaluative ability and implicit theories of creativity. However, this recommendation is quite problematic for teachers, who are limited in terms of the time and effort that they can devote to product evaluation. A better solution for teachers may be to develop techniques that allow a student's teacher and peers to help evaluate products in a manner that is less time-intensive.
The death of creativity measurement has been greatly exaggerated. Indeed, advances in assessment and statistical methodology have created an environment in which many of the compelling issues regarding creativity can be examined psychometrically. If researchers continue to broaden their conceptions of creativity and assessment, psychometric approaches to creativity will not only rise from their rumored sickbed sick·bed
A sick person's bed. but will also begin to thrive.
In 1988, Hennessey and Amabile made the following comment about the many roles that creativity assessment is called on to play in psychology and education.
Clearly, rather than relying on
one method to fulfill all these criteria,
it is more reasonable to assume
that some techniques will be more
appropriate to certain assessment
needs, such as the identification of
unusually gifted children within a
large national sample, and different
techniques will be better suited to
other needs....(p. 235)
Their thoughts certainly remain applicable, especially given the expanding role of assessment in our schools. But the past decade of creativity research should also encourage researchers and educators to utilize multiple indicators of creativity for each "assessment need," determining which combination of assessments to employ based on the purpose of the creativity assessment.
Author Note: A preliminary version of this article was presented at the Henry B. & Jocelyn Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development, Iowa City, Iowa Iowa City is a city in Johnson County, Iowa, United States. It is the principal city of the Iowa City, Iowa Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses Johnson and Washington counties. , on May 20, 1998.
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In biology, the classification of organisms into a hierarchy of groupings, from the general to the particular, that reflect evolutionary and usually morphological relationships: kingdom, phylum, class, order, and critique of measurements used in the study of creativity. In J. A. Glover Glov´er
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1. Drawing apart from a common point; diverging.
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Jonathan A. Plucker is an assistant professor of learning, cognition, and instruction at Indiana University Indiana University, main campus at Bloomington; state supported; coeducational; chartered 1820 as a seminary, opened 1824. It became a college in 1828 and a university in 1838. The medical center (run jointly with Purdue Univ. , Bloomington and a Contributing Editor A contributing editor is a magazine job title that varies in responsibilities. Most often, a contributing editor is a freelancer who has proven ability and readership draw. of the Roeper Review. His interests include creativity, intelligence, and affective aspects of talent development.
Mark A. Runco is a professor of child development at California State University, Fullerton California State University, Fullerton, commonly known as CSUF, CSU Fullerton, or Cal State Fullerton, is a part of the California State University system. The University is located in the city of Fullerton, California, in northern Orange County. and a Contributing Editor of the Roeper Review. He is the immediate past president of the American Psychological Association's Division 10 (Psychology and the Arts).
Manuscript submitted July, 1998. Revision accepted August, 1998.