Friday, 2 January 2015

Another half brick of creativity

Here are the last two papers for the creativity symposium, and links to key papers referenced in all the presentations. First of all, here are other papers by the creative Rex Jung:


Presenting on “Intelligence and Creativity: Bridges, Gaps and Overlaps” Emanuel Jauk ( said:  In a sample of 297 participants, we studied three different aspects of the intelligence-creativity relationship.
In a first study, we investigated the threshold hypothesis - one of the most prominent notions concerning the interplay between intelligence and creativity. The threshold hypothesis posits that above-average intelligence (usually in terms of an IQ of at least 120) represents a necessary but not sufficient condition for high creative potential. We used segmented regression analyses in order to empirically detect possible thresholds in the intelligence-creativity relationship. Our results confirm the threshold hypothesis in the way that intelligence increases creative potential (in terms of divergent thinking ability) only up to an above-average IQ and loses its impact thereafter.
Moving further from creative potential to indicators of real-life creative behavior, we established a structural equation model for the prediction of creative accomplishments by means of creative potential, intelligence, and openness to
experience. We found that personal accomplishments in terms of everyday creative activities depend on openness and creative potential, but not on intelligence. Socially acknowledged creative achievement, in contrast, was found to depend upon intelligence.
Finally, we investigated brain structural correlates of creative potential, intelligence, and openness in a subsample of 135 individuals using voxel-based morphometry. The study integrated and extended previous findings indicating that the ability to produce original ideas (ideational originality) is tied to default-mode as well as dopaminergic brain structures. This result was apparent throughout groups of lower and higher intelligent individuals. In contrast, the ability to produce a large number of ideas (ideational fluency) is correlated with brain structure only in lower
intelligent individuals, which might indicate a threshold effect on the neurostructural level.

The paper is slightly unusual, in that it seeks to model creative processes using IQ120 as a cut-off, and so runs contrary to the general findings of the Lubinski and Benbow work that there is no cut-off point, and that the brighter you are the more creative you are in real life. I think the difference lies in the fact that Jauk et al. are looking at the normal population rather than a select group of high achievers and even more importantly their volunteers were assessed on creativity tests, rather than real life achievements.

Now we turn to a great money spinner: training people how to be creative. You know the sort of thing: imagine you are travelling at the speed of light, and tell me what you would see? That was a made up example, to show the inherent absurdity of the project, because imagining you are travelling at the speed of light will produce little of interest unless you are Einstein. More usually the purveyors of these techniques suggest that by doing some simple and not so simple memory exercises you will “train your brain”. By the way, if you ever find an instance of a brain being trained without an attached person being involved, please let me know.

Oshin Vartanian has cast a critical eye on brain training.

The Prospects and Perils of Cognitive (Brain) Training for Improving Cognition: The Case for Creativity
Oshin Vartanian (
Recently, there has been great theoretical and applied interest in the prospects of cognitive (brain) training for improving cognition. Primarily, researchers have employed working memory (WM) tasks for training purposes, and examined their effects on other tasks that draw on WM capacity. The available data suggest that whereas WM training can improve performance on the trained and other structurally similar tasks (i.e., near transfer), far transfer to structurally dissimilar untrained tasks or general cognitive function is not always observed. To increase the utility of cognitive training as an aid for improving cognition in real-world settings, we need a better understanding of the conditions under which transfers of different types—both far and near—occur. Toward that end, I will present a selective review of the studies in the area, with a particular focus on findings that have a bearing on training creativity.

I do not have links to his talk yet, but in essence Vartanian finds that training on working memory tasks brings some gains to similar memory tasks, but not usually to g loaded tasks. I do not know how long the effect lasts, but the training takes 10 sessions, so you might be better off investing your intelligence in learning some more useful skills. For example, learning more about statistics or genetics or even perfecting your spread sheet skills. Not Powerpoint. That will reduce even the sharpest of intellects.

In summary, it looks as if intelligence is a large part of real creativity, that is, suggestions which have merit in the real world, generating ideas with interesting and testable corollaries rather than the verbal diarrhoea of endless silly uses for a brick.

Have a creative 2015.


  1. "Brain training": cast that idea aside. But would it be possible to teach rather unintelligent people the habits of more intelligent people? Indeed, are there such habits? Could they be taught? Would it be useful?

    This is such an obvious idea that there must surely be a literature on it?

    1. Teaching unintelligent people the habits of more intelligent people is the foundation stone of education. However, there are limits, profound limits. Taking in the message is an intelligence test, and when the subject matter gets too difficult then training times to adequate performance level take longer and longer.One exception is heuristics: validated rules of thumb which "make people smart" as Gigerenzer says. Of course, he means, "act apparently smarter" rather than actually be smarter. As a personal example, Richard Feynman explains how he was able to give almost immediate answers to highly complex mathematical puzzles by using shortcuts he had invented (and later found that others had previously invented). However, I would have needed an entire maths course to understand the short cuts.

    2. Don't we know that as "education"?

      I dread the impact of creativity-training schemes, implemented on a large scale. I think it's easier to recognize creative people than to try to "teach" creativity. It seems to me the best one could do would be to encourage students to resist the training that there is One Right Answer to every question.

      In the education field in the US, education schools are reportedly busily trying to teach "creativity," by dint of requiring future teachers to produce posters and handicrafts. These efforts do not seem transferrable to creativity in math or indeed, any other field other than classroom bulletin boards. So I would posit large creativity training schemes should be considered wasteful.

    3. "Teaching unintelligent people the habits of more intelligent people is the foundation stone of education. However, there are limits..."

      Amen! Truer words were never spoken!

      It will all be carried to extremes & will help no one. but it may generate some cool new buzz words! creativity requires intelligence, but the latter is no fun since it is accurately measured - creativity has a lot more of that good ol' "emotional intelligence" type subjectivity that the masses go gaga over. sadly, more educators believe in gardner's armchair multiple intelligences than know of g & actual legitimate (& consistent) intelligence research. Ideally, the intelligence test publishers would educate the masses (e.g., "intelligence is real & measurable - however, the search for/training of "creativity" is a subjective boondoggle & will merely help line the pockets of charlatans") but then educating the masses is only possible for very, very simple ideas. it's impossible otherwise. here in the states we believe that biology & the normal curve don't exist as soon as a child walks into a school.

    4. Sorry, chaps, I don't think that "education" can be equated to my "teach[ing] rather unintelligent people the habits of more intelligent people". I suppose teaching the 3Rs might be. Thereafter, although education might give you examples of things that interest intelligent people, I'm not convinced that that's the same thing as teaching their habits. And, alas, many unintelligent people clearly find the interests of intelligent people deeply boring.
      On the other hand, I suppose that trying to indoctrinate the dim with the habits of the bright might be doomed to failure anyway, especially at the hands of schoolteachers - who, after all, are already busy trying to indoctrinate their charges with all the PC secular religions of the age.

    5. Education ought to be more than teaching habits, but certainly should include inculcating good habits. Teaching principles is closer to the mark. In some ways the "teaching habits" movement invokes magical thinking, because it confuses the outer form with the inner drive. It is a bit like the countless "invest like Warren Buffet" books, which neglect to point out that he has a very sharp brain, and concentrates on investment to the exclusion of almost everything else.

  2. I do not have links to his talk yet, but in essence Vartanian finds that training on working memory tasks brings some gains to similar memory tasks, but not usually to g loaded tasks.

    9th Class Date Sheet 2015 BISE Rawalpindi Board

  3. "imagining you are travelling at the speed of light will produce little of interest unless you are Einstein."

    Does a person need to be Einstein to know that only massless particles can travel at c in a vacuum? OK, OK, forgetting about this, is it so hard to see how time dilation would just mean that you'd experience the trip instantaneously? (I'd close my eyes while I was at it, if I were you; all those blueshifted photons coming in your direction might give you a bit of a headache.)

  4. Mark, I take all your points. I'm told that Einstein started with another thought experiment: if I was falling for a very long time, what would I think of gravity? He had to do something in his imagination in order to come up with his insights.

  5. Trivial creativity tests are EXACTLY same what trivial intelligence tests are too. Non-dynamic inteliigence.

    Novel ideas density is not WRONG way to measure creativity but is INCOMPLETE.

    To factory iorkut problem:

    1-Intensive agriculture model in factory with different ''cultures''
    2- G factor of flavors to sell the same product but that is absolutely perfect because all people like.
    3-Hiring traditional British confectioners
    4- Cornetto cake.
    5- Hiring chinese workers, ;)
    6-Invent a character like Mario bros or Tortughitta.

    To Feynman problem

    1- never mentioned the latitude

    I think most highly creative people are TWICE EXCEPCIONAL, a kind of giftedness category where higher intelligence is combined with some 'mental complexity', like ''personalities RE-order.
    Many them have assymetric cognitive quantitative profile, with very higher capacity in narrow capacities combined with pseudo-deficits in others. They are high functioning savant.