Trend Watch – Creativity Scores Headed Downward for U.S. #innovation

Since 1990, U.S. creativity has been in a downward spiral!Image: jscreationzs /

Have you ever thought about whether creativity could be measured?  It seems that in 1958 E. Paul Torrance designed a series of creativity tasks to measure creativity.  He administered his test to 400 children in Minneapolis. 

I would question how accurate this creativity index would be in predicting creativity for adults.  I read a recent Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.   Apparently, Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University, validated a more than three times correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment with Torrance’s creativity index as contrasted to childhood IQ.

This year, Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary did a follow up study where he analyzed almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults.  It appears that creativity scores steadily rose, just like IQ scores until 1990 and then creativity scores nosedived.  The decline is most significant from kindergarten through sixth grade.

In my prior blog post, I wrote about the CEO Survey of 1,500 CEOs who unequivocally identified creativity as the most important leadership competency for success in the future.  

What does this mean for the United States in terms of maintaining our leadership position in the world?  Our leaders understand that creativity is essential; yet at the same time our creativity scores are plummeting!

Stop and think about where we currently need creative solutions.  We are crying out for new ideas to solve our ongoing economic crisis.  We need new ideas to solve the issues of sustainability.  We need new ideas to support our changing demographics.

Creativity includes not only generating great ideas, but it also means being open to the ideas of others.  Through creative thinking we can generate solutions for a health care system as well as new thinking for moving towards a more peaceful world. We need new ideas to make our country more competitive and to identify new ways to measure success. 

Do you think creativity is important?


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I absolutely think creativity is important – more important than the number of engineers graduating. Engineers can be hired, but creativity is about culture, about (as you said) being open to the ideas of others as well as generating great ideas.

We need creative solutions to our creativity crisis. How ironic.

Unfortunately we live in a society where critical thinking and creativity is shunned. Everyone wants to rehash an old idea rather than create a new one. In America today we create a younger generation of media and game junkies and we wonder why in a “reality entertainment” society that creativity is sent on the back burner? I on the other hand was born into a society that really did not have a lot of room for creativity as I was born with ADHD. I have had to learn and teach myself and overcome the disadvantages in life associated with this handicap. I don’t want pity for my predicament because I do not look at it as a handicap but a way to become more creative to exist in the world I live in. As life goes on I find myself at a greater advantage than those much younger than myself because they become dumber and more stagnate in their life skills and I become more creative and successful in mine.

The Creativity Crisis will always be a problem in America. To be, so to speak “creative” , one must think out of the box and “unbiased” to be able to use critical thinking in the creative thought process.

P.S. Pretty good for someone who never got past 9th grade?

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