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Psychometric and self-rated creativity of polish managers: are implicit theories of creativity relevant to self-assessment?

Creativity is usually defined from the four-P perspective, namely, focusing on person, process, product and place (Rhodes, 1961). This study focuses on the aspect of person, one's creative actual potential and one's self-perception of that potential, that is, on the relationship between self-rated creativity and psychometric creativity measures. At the center of interest is the accuracy of self-assessment of creativity, and its determinants. The main hypothesis assumes that managers can assess their creativity more or less accurately, depending on the nature of their implicit theories of creativity. Studies have not previously been undertaken that explore the relationship between implicit theories of creativity and psychometric indicators, for people in executive positions. As such, this study may make a valuable contribution in this regard.

Accuracy of Creativity Self-Assessment

Little-c creativity (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009) plays an important role in a manager's work. It is manifested in the fluency, flexibility and originality of thinking, openness, and independence. Although not necessarily leading to new and valuable products, it is nevertheless an important factor in generating innovation in organizations and may have an impact on the climate for creativity in the workplace (Kwasniewska & Nccka, 2004). Creativity as a potential is significant in finding and solving everyday problems and dealing with unexpected situations. Creativity as a requirement in managerial positions is common, but this begs the question of whether managers actually know how creative they are.

It is well-known that people differ in their self-assessment (Kaufman, 2009) and beliefs about their own abilities. Subjective assessment of one's creativity seems to be an important dimension of inducing people to undertake creative tasks (Choi, 2004; Lim & Choi, 2009). Self-rated creativity correlates with factors such as creative thinking (Park, Lee, & Hahn, 2002); divergent thinking (Furnham, Batey, Anand, & Manfield, 2008); creativity measured by the Barron Welsh Art Scale (Furnham, Zhang, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2006); and supervisor-rated innovation behavior (Yao, Yang, Dong, & Wang, 2010). Accuracy of assessment is also concerned with how individuals rate their ideas as creative, original, unique or novel. Interesting results are provided by Runco and his colleagues (Runco & Dow, 2004; Runco & Smith, 1992), showing a positive association between creativity and the ability to adequately evaluate one's own solutions. Silvia (2008) confirmed these results, concluding that "Creative people are thus doubly skilled: they are better at generating creative ideas and at discerning which ones are the best" (p. 145). According to Kaufman (2009, 2010), one can ask: why do some people know precisely how creative they are, and others rate themselves wrongly? Is implicit theory the reason for this difference? Do people really assess themselves according to a naive definition of creativity, or are creativity and evaluation, as metacognitive skills, always found to co-exist (Grohman, Wodniecka, & Klusak, 2006)?

Implicit theories of creativity

According to Runco and Johnson (2002) and Sternberg (1985), implicit theories are sets of beliefs and ideas existing in people's minds and used in making judgments of their own and others' characteristics and behaviors. Implicit theories of creativity consist of private and not formalized thoughts concerning which behaviors and traits are typical for creativity, and which are not. Sternberg writes (1985) that the fastest way to discover implicit theories of creativity is to ask people, who are not professional psychologists, how they perceive their creative potential.

Implicit theories can either encourage creative activity or inhibit it (Runco & Johnson, 2002). Wickes Saunders and Ward (2006) demonstrated that both a sense of personal creative competence and a well-defined general implicit theory of creativity are related to more creative output on standard creativity tasks. One can speculate that implicit theories of creativity are relevant to self-assessment, and even more--the coherency of implicit theories with scientific theories of creativity may influence the accuracy of self-rated creativity. However, the hypothesized regulatory role of implicit theories of creativity still requires confirmation. Such corroboration is especially important in occupations where these beliefs have potential consequences in their judgments and attitudes towards people deemed as creative. Implicit theories of creativity have not been previously studied among Polish managers and nor have they been compared with explicit theories, represented by scientific knowledge, as one of the possible sources of such comparisons.

Hypothesized Model

Several components have been suggested as relating to self-rated creativity (Figure 1). This model shows the expected relationships. The first hypothesis assumes that managers will define creativity properly, so their naive definitions (implicit theories) would reflect scientific theories. This hypothesis draws on Sternberg's (1985) studies, but also on qualitative and anecdotal observations of business practice. As managers generally represent the well-educated sector of society, they usually have intensive training, including creativity training, thus making it likely that they will have sufficient knowledge about creativity. It is analogously hypothesized that this group will pay attention to aspects relating to the generation and application of solutions to existing problems.

The second hypothesis assumes a positive relationship between a psychometric level of creativity and self-rated creativity. Previously described results provide a basis for such expectations (Furnham, Batey, Anand, & Manfield, 2008; Furnham, Zhang, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2006; Park, Lee, & Hahn, 2002; Yao, Yang, Dong, & Wang, 2010). The Association between psychometric and self-rated creativity will be used as an index of the accuracy of self-rated creativity.

It is also expected that psychometric and self-rated creativity of managers will be moderated by their implicit theories of creativity (H3). It is hypothesized that the accuracy of self-rated creativity depends on the correctness of naive definitions of creativity (understood here as coherency with scientific theories).



In total, 75 managers and company owners participated in the study (32 women and 43 men). Participants were between 21-70 years of age, with the largest group being between 31 and 40 years of age (42.5%). More than half of the respondents had experience in management ranging between 1 and 5 years (55.6%). The majority of participants (28%) came from the finance and banking sector.


Definition of creativity. Implicit theories of creativity were measured by an open question "What do you mean by creativity?". Qualitative material was analyzed using two independent methods of data analysis:

1. Three independent judges assessed the overall correctness of the definition on a 5-point Likert-type scale. "Correctness" is a work expression which shows here a coherency with scientific knowledge. Judges were two postdoctoral researchers and one graduate student who are academic teachers and creativity researchers. The results were highly consistent (Cronbach's [alpha] = .82), so ratings were averaged.

2. Within-category correctness of the definition was assessed by the author of this paper, taking into account the number of meta-categories of each definition. The basis for the evaluation was an integrative approach which described creativity through the lens of cognitive ability (eg. creative thinking, unconventional ways of thinking, cognitive curiosity) and personality traits (eg. independence, openness, innovation). All meta-categories are presented in the results section. Each correct component in the definition was scored one point; each incorrect component was scored minus one point. This variable reflects the complexity of the private definition, pointing to the various attributes of creativity.

Self-rated creativity. Participants were asked to respond on a five-point Likert-type scale (from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree) "Do you consider yourself as a creative person?".

Test for Creative Thinking--Drawing Production (TCT-DP). Theoretical justification for the TCT-DP is found in the Component Model of Creativity (Urban, 1996, 2005; Matczak, Jaworowska, & Stanczak, 2000). The model assumes that creative abilities are a system of different human characteristics, abilities and motives. The TCT-DP is a drawing test, with individuals being required to finish an incomplete picture comprising of six elements (half circle, dashed line, curve line, dot, small open square, big square frame). The level of creativity is the sum of points obtained in 14 criteria: continuations, completion, new elements, connections made with a line, connections made to produce a theme, boundary breaking that is fragment dependent, boundary breaking that is fragment independent, perspective, humor and affectivity, unconventionality (4 different categories like any manipulation of the material, unconventional use of given fragments, any surrealistic, fictional and/or abstract elements, any usage of symbols or signs), and speed. Validation data, shown in the manual to the Polish version of the test, confirms the high validity and reliability of this instrument (Matczak, Jaworowska, & Stanczak, 2000).

Creative Thinking Test (TTM). The test is used to measure creative abilities by focusing on fluency (the number of ideas), flexibility (the number of categories) and metaphors (the number of unconventional linguistic expressions) (Nccka & Rychlicka, 1987). The test consists of six divergent thinking tasks, requiring the adoption of a different perspective to see analogies, similarities, defects, and abnormal categorization, for example: "What are the similarities between the writer and the hunter?" or "Some well-known objects sometimes reveal amazing properties. What is unusual in the chair?". Each task was given on a separate sheet of paper so that participants would not feel constrained by the lack of space. Time allowed to complete this test was 20 minutes.

Creative Attitude Inventory (KANH). KANH consists of 60 statements relating to the behavior of people involved in action and learning. Subjects have to declare the adequacy of the statements on a scale from 0 to 2. The inventory contains four scales: conformity (C)--nonconformity (N) (the sphere of character, motivation) and algorithmic (A)--heuristic (H) behavior (cognitive area). The sum of points obtained in scales C and A gives an overall score for reproductive attitude, whereas the N and H scales give an overall score in the realm of creative attitude (Popek, 2000). Reliability coefficients presented in the manual of the questionnaire showed a high reliability: the scales conformity--nonconformity = .87; and the scale behavior of algorithmic--heuristic = .83 (Popek, 2000).


Managers were recruited through advertisements and a training course. All the participants gave their consent to be involved and all completed the tasks in the same order. First, the participants were asked to complete a questionnaire with demographic data and one open question "What do you mean by creativity"? After that, they had to rate themselves on a five-point Likert-type scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Finally participants were given two tests for creative thinking (TCT-DP and TTM) and one creative attitude inventory (KANH). This combination of instruments, although traditionally not used in business research, complemented each other (nonverbal and verbal tasks and self-report scale) and as such, was considered appropriate for exploring the phenomenon of creativity in the present context. The test time was usually about one hour, depending on the individual progress through the cases presented. In the case of TCT-DP and TTM, the time allowed for the test was provided in accordance with the manuals.


The results are examined in order of the hypotheses presented. First, the results of qualitative analysis of implicit theories are considered. Next, the relationship between objective and subjective assessment of creativity, which determine the accuracy of self-assessment are examined. Finally, hierarchical regression analysis and correlation in the tested model are presented.

Qualitative and quantitative analysis of implicit theories

Two independent methods of data analysis were used. Averaged scores of overall correctness of the definition (M = 3.6; SD = .69 ; scale 1 - 5) and within-category correctness of the definition (M = 2.13; SD = 1.50 ; range -1 - +6) were positive, suggesting that managers define creativity coherently with scientific knowledge. Correlation between these two methods of qualitative analysis of implicit theories was substantial (r = .64, p < .01) and suggests that those methods are associated, but are not necessarily the same. All components of the definitions were analyzed and categorized according to identified 22 meta-categories. Having a set of elements, another systematization was conducted, sharing beliefs on cognitive, personality, and motivational factors. The set of categories, their examples and the frequency of each of them is shown in Table 1.

Responses indicate some knowledge about creativity according to scientific theories, which confirms the first hypothesis. Participants described creativity through the lens of creative thinking (53%), innovation (48%), problem solving (57%), and ingenuity (64%), which accurately describe the phenomenon. They also perceived creativity as the ability of creative thinking, understood as non-standard, original or unusual thinking, and they also drew attention to the specific operations such as associating, anticipating, coping with contradictions and deficits.

Accuracy of self-rated creativity

The Self-Rated Creativity was reliably correlated with the creative attitude measured by KANH. Positive relationships were also noted between SRC and the Creative Thinking Test.

Principal Components Analysis (PCA) relating to the creativity assessment task was conducted and resulted in a one-factor solution--General Index of Creativity (GIC). The loadings were: TCT-DP = .829, TTM = .849, KANH = .594. The GIC was moderately reliable (Cronbach's [alpha] = .64). The use of a total creativity factor is a popular solution in creativity research (Batey & Furnham, 2008) and in this research, correlated reliably with SRC (r (71) = .34; p < .01).

Overall correctness of implicit theories was not related to Psychometric Creativity nor Self-Rated Creativity. Within-category correctness was reliably associated with creative abilities and thinking (TCT-DP and TTM), but not with the creative attitude. There was also association between implicit theories (within-category correctness) and GIC r (75) = .31;p < .01.

The role of implicit theories in the self-assessment

To test the moderating effect of implicit theories, hierarchical regression analysis was conducted. SRC was predicted by GIC, overall correctness (OC) and within-category correctness (WCC) in the first step, and interactions GIC x OC and GIC x WCC were examined in the second step. In both cases, the overall and within-category correctness of the definition did not moderate the accuracy of Self-Rated Creativity. Hypothesis 3 was thus refuted. Only GIC reliably predicted SRC.

To know more about how managers assess themselves, three groups were separated compared to GIC: 26% of the group were managers very precise and accurate in their self assessment; 39.7% those who underestimated their own possibilities; and 34.2% people who overestimated themselves. ANOVA showed no differences between these groups in terms of implicit theories. Accuracy of assessing yourself specifically as a creative person was not related to individuals' definitions of creativity. A naive theory --whether coherent with the scientific knowledge or not did not affect the relationship between psychometric and self-rated creativity.


Coherency of implicit theories

Studies about implicit theories often define creativity through ingenuity or problem-solving skills (Gluck, Ernst, & Unger, 2002; Sternberg, 1985). Sternberg's study of implicit theories of intelligence, wisdom and creativity showed many similarities between implicit and scientific definitions. The differences were noticeable while taking into account perception of professors from different fields. Professors involved in business stressed the importance of such traits as ingenuity and exploring new ideas, especially in services and products. Those who represented the arts, highlighted imagination and originality, whereas professors of philosophy emphasized the role of playing with concepts, unconventional classification and systematization of knowledge (Sternberg, 1985). Definitions of creativity expressed by Polish managers found in this study were also mostly coherent with scientific definitions of creativity, as a combination of cognitive abilities and certain personality traits, and presenting creativity as a multidimensional concept. As for business professors (Sternberg, 1985), Polish managers also highlighted the practical importance of creativity, with the generation of ideas being less popular among them than the implementation of ideas and problem solving strategies. Managers implicit theories of creativity had also domain-specific elements such as decision making, the efficiency of team management, and interpersonal skills. A creative person seen through their eyes can handle a variety of problems. Creativity is characterized by ingenuity, and its biggest asset is the ability of effectively implement new ideas and plans. At the same time, creativity gives people a different perspective and leads to adaptation in the form of challenging present reality. With regard to the construction of implicit theories, it is common to combine different attributes with the implicational approach (Gluck, Ernst, & Unger, 2002; Karwowski, 2010), which this study also shows.

The Accuracy of Self-Rated Creativity

It is well established that managers are quite creative, i.e. more than teachers (Matczak, Jaworowska, & Stanczak, 2000) or students (Dollinger, Urban, & James, 2004) and, as this study demonstrated, managers generally accurately know how creative they are. Their self-rated creativity increases as the level of creative ability grows, which confirms the accuracy of the perception of self. In this case, not only divergent thinking predicted ratings accuracy, but also creative attitude--compared to the study of Batey, Furnham and Safiullina (2010) where cognitive variables were unrelated to self-assessment and only personality variables such as openness was related to self-rated creativity. Perhaps professional orientation explains why some people are not only more creative but also more aware of their own competence than others.

Despite the fact that implicit theories of creativity were shown not to be relevant to self-assessment in this study, it is worth noting that a more comprehensive way of assessing implicit theories; in this case, within-category correctness of the definition is associated with the level of creativity of managers (GIC). If one assumes that implicit theories affect behavior (Runco & Johnson, 2002), then it may follow that people who define creativity in a more complex fashion and also more "correctly", can respond more adequately to tests with a specific cognitive and motivational attitude. Essentially, people are trying to accomplish a task and answer the questions when invited to "be creative" (Runco & Chand, 1994). It may be also argued that the professional function plays an important role in this specific study, because people in leadership positions are often confronted with various types of tests while at the same time feeling the pressure to confirm their competence. Managers could also have more scientific knowledge, because they are familiar with research in creativity. As such, they are also familiar with the divergent thinking task used in the assessment provided. However, limitations of this study design such as narrow way in collecting implicit theories and also small sample allow only speculation. The use of other tools, which are rather dedicated to business e.g. Style of Creative Behavior Questionnaire (Strzalecki, 2011) or Creativity in the Workplace Questionnaire (Kwasniewska & Kwiecien, 2007) could also contribute to a better understanding of this phenomenon. Further, a comparison of different professional groups could lead to interesting insights.

Several other questions remain to be answered for future research. The first is about the mechanisms of self-assessment. Do managers assess their own creativity via evaluation of their own ideas and achievements, with appeal to an analysis of their own accomplishments and activities, or it is just a general self-perception, based on self-esteem? The second question arises directly from the management practices, where discernment is a particularly important area of managing people, assessing their ideas, as well as being related to innovation and implementation processes. If managers can accurately assess themselves, will they also be able to accurately assess others (i.e. subordinates), and their products? The creativity literature supports both positions, namely, data supporting this line of thinking (Silvia, 2008), and challenging it (Grohman, Wodniecka, & Klusak, 2006). It should be noted though, that there is limited research in organizations related to the question posed.

Joanna Szen-Ziemianska

University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joanna Szen-Ziemianska University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Interdisciplinary PhD Program, Chodakowska 19/31, 03-815, Warsaw, Poland. E-mail:

I thank Maciej Karwowski and Edward Nccka for their comments.


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Table 1
Implicit Theories of Creativity--component Systematization of
the Definitions

Component type         Meta-categories (N = 22)

Cognitive factor         Generation of new ideas (26), creative
(N = 127)                thinking (56), problem solving (32), fantasy
                         and imagination (2), decision making (4),
                         intelligence (5), planning and organization

Personality factor       Innovation (39), flexibility (7), lack of
(N = 92)                 inhibition (3), openness to new (4), the way
                         of looking at the world (8), pugnacity (2),
                         resourcefulness (3), development (3), the
                         efficiency (6), coping with stress (1),
                         independence (5), interpersonal skills (5),
                         team management, (3) courage (3).

Motivational             Motivation (3)
factor (N = 3)

Note: numbers in parenthesis indicate how many times
managers pointed this component.

Table 2
Intercorrelation Between the Measures

                          M       SD      1   2        3       4

1. Creative               27.19   12.71   1   .57 **   .25 *   .17
   Abilities (TCT-DP)

2. Creative               50.52   19.88       1        .29 *   .28 *
   Thinking (TTM)

3. Creative               19.65   10.46                1       .36 **
   Attitude (KANH)

4. Self-Rated             3.74    .71                          1
   Creativity (SRC)

5. Overall Correctness    10 80   2.08
   of the definition

6. Within-category        2.13    1.50
   Correctness of the
   definition (WCC)

                           5      6

1. Creative               -.01   .24 *
   Abilities (TCT-DP)

2. Creative               .13    .26 *
   Thinking (TTM)

3. Creative               .04    .22
   Attitude (KANH)

4. Self-Rated             .00    .11
   Creativity (SRC)

5. Overall Correctness    1      .64 **
   of the definition

6. Within-category               1
   Correctness of the
   definition (WCC)

* p < .05, ** p < .01

Table 3
Hierarchica Regression: Creativity and Implicit
Theories of Creativity as a Predictor of
Self-rated Creativity

                                B (SE)         [beta]

Step 1: Predictors of SRC
  General Index of
    Creativity (GIC)          .24 (.09)         .34 ***
  Overall Correctness (OC)   -.02 (.05)        -.05
    Correctness (WCC)         .01 (.08)         .02
Step 2: Interactions
  GIC x OC                    .02 (.06)         .05
  GIC x WCC                   .00 (.08)         .01

                              [R.sup.2]      [R.sup.2]
Step 1: Predictors of SRC
  General Index of
    Creativity (GIC)             .12           .12 **
  Overall Correctness (OC)
    Correctness (WCC)
Step 2: Interactions
  GIC x OC                       .12            .00

* p < .05, ** p < .01
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Author:Szen-Ziemianska, Joanna
Publication:The International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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