A new test to measure your creativity level in minutes

A new test to measure your creativity level in minutes

It can be done online and measures the ability to wander with thought in the linguistic field. It can be useful for evaluating creativity in very large and heterogeneous samples of people

light bulb (Getty Images) Can creativity be measured objectively? Yes, and even in a few minutes, at least according to the research of three psychologists from Harvard, the University of Melbourne and McGill University, who in a paper published in Prooceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have just presented the results obtained with their Divergent Association Task (Dat), a test that allows you to evaluate, in just a couple of minutes, your level of verbal creativity and divergent thinking, the ability to produce multiple alternative solutions for a given problem.

To try the creativity test yourself, just visit the project website, where you will be asked to choose 10 words that are as different as possible from each other in meaning and use in the language. For now the program only recognizes English words, and it is not known how representative the results can be considered for non-native speakers. However, it is a quick and fun test and participating helps researchers gather new data.

“According to many theories, creative people have the ability to generate more divergent ideas - the researchers write in their study -. If this is true, simply by choosing words that are not related to each other and measuring the semantic distance between them, it is possible to obtain an objective measure of divergent thinking ”.

The test is based on a program that automatically evaluates the semantic distance between the chosen words. "Dog" and "book", for example, have less in common than a pair of words like "dog" and "cat", and by assigning a grade to each combination of terms the test produces a numerical score that represents the degree of linguistic creativity of the user. The three researchers evaluated the accuracy of the Dat by analyzing the responses of about 8,900 volunteers, coming to the conclusion that the effectiveness of the test is at least comparable to that of the other methods currently used to evaluate creativity. With the advantage, however, of being much faster and easier to use. Furthermore, the Dat does not require any evaluation by a human operator to provide a result and for this reason it can be easily used also for large-scale surveys.

The results - the researchers make it clear - only evaluate creativity in the linguistic field. Therefore, they do not help to predict how creative we are in the kitchen or in painting, but they can represent a clue to how good we are for the solution of problems in which it is necessary to look for less immediate alternatives to arrive at the right conclusion.

"Our test measures only a small portion of a single type of creativity - explains Jay Olson, a Harvard psychologist who collaborated on the project -. Despite its limitations, the results of our study confirm that it can be useful for evaluating creativity in very large and heterogeneous samples of people, an important result that will help us to better understand this fundamental ability for human beings ".

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