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PUZZLING THINGS OUT tm.

©
2007
by Paul Henrickson, Ph.D.

More than thirty years ago a rather broadly based


research
project conducted under the sponsorship of the
University of Northern Iowa was conducted using the
undergraduate and high school academic records and
performances on two tasks of creativity as the
nucleus of the study.

At the time of the research project there had been a


form of political uprising within the faculty of the art
department of that university which while reacting to
legitimate academic concerns was itself made a
victim of these circumstances by a more cleverly
manipulative influence which had been selected to
replace it.

In addition to the University itself which had been


victimized the research project had been successfully
derailed by the incoming and aggressively viral
mindset of one Kenneth Lash. What was managed to
be salvaged and at that time published under the title
“ The Perceptive and Silenced Minorities” was a
section of the research results which had reported on
how the behavior of the creative minds of the group
were systematically deprived of recognition and
rewards even while the less-creative minds were
highly rewarded for their compliant and conforming
behavior. Concurrently, it was discovered that these
two groups, the creative and the conforming ones,
differed, as well, in highly interesting, but
understandable ways. Those ways were defined on
their performance on three scales of lying.
In sum, the difference between the creative group
and the conforming group was that the conforming
group which had consistently been rewarded with a
grade point average one grade point higher than the
creative group also lied significantly more than did
those subjects identified as creative. The lying scales
themselves were subdivided into The only subscale in
which the creative group scored higher than the
conforming group was in the area of unmotivated
misrepresentation, lying, that is, accidentally and
without a conscious purpose, through carelessness .
Interesting results which has led the researcher to
question as to the role that validation, that is,
functional agreement, plays in the socio-political
development of a social group.

How such a phenomenon might work might be seen


more clearly in the following scenario: an issue arises
within a social group that requires group agreement
and the pressures to take corrective action is so
paramount that the creative mind which takes more
factors into consideration and, thereby, a longer time
to arrive at a solution (gestalt closure) may not find
the opportunity to give expression to his perceptions
before the group, as a whole, makes its own decision.
Such a procedure is also supported by the well-known
factor that there is assurance in numbers and since,
the creative mind is, by definition, in the minority
such an individual has an up-hill struggle just to
express himself, not to mention being heard,
understood and agreed to. The mass mind loves
company and that is why it is so easily manipulated
during political conventions. This observation leans
us to consider why, these days, some leading nations
are so intent upon establishing what is described as
“democratic regimes” in what are otherwise
authoritarian organizations. Is it, by chance, a move
to replace one authority with another and mislabeling
the process democratic?

Our research leads us to the understanding that the


process the creative thinker goes through in a search
for a solution is ultimately a more satisfying process
because it takes more factors into consideration and
consequently achieves a “better fit”. The creative
mind also arrives at this point without the interfering
and destructive habit of falsifying evidence as a
sacrifice to the group’s need for agreement…
agreement at any cost it sometimes seems.

This research allows us to place limits on the


application of democratic concepts in favor of respect
for the observations of more perceptive individuals.

More recently these same creativity tasks, The


Creativity Design Task and The Just Suppose Task
were used in evaluating the attitudes and
performances of grade-school children between the
ages of five and eleven in a small community in
southern Europe…so southern it could be considered
Northern Africa. The results of this research have
been reported in “The ‘X’ Report” available upon
request by writing to: prh@tcp.com.mt .

Concurrent with and subsequent to all of the above is


the development of what are called “The Creativity
Design Puzzles” a primary example of which is
illustrated below along with the observations of the
seven-year-old participant.

Before the actual participation in puzzle solving the


following comments made by the subject were
recorded:

“This is not what I’ve done before.”


“How do I do this one?”
“There is nothing for me to copy!”
“What am I supposed to do?”

The following comments were recorded after the


experiment:

“I did it! I like what I did!”


“I wonder if I could do it different?”
…to a companion “You do yours, I’ll do mine.”

Most mature observers will notice the rather dramatic


change in attitude expressed by the subject and will
appreciate the significance this change in attitude
will have toward the experience of learning…and
learning, of some type, will take place and if we are
able to stack the cards in favor of enthusiasm for the
experience and its potential rather than one
characterized by a begrudged compliance the better
off most of us will be.

The total number of 40 creativity design puzzles have


been created along the lines consistent with color and
pattern theory, Dr. Henrickson holds a B.F.A. from The
Rhode Island School of Design as well as Ph.D. from
the University of Minnesota and worked with E. Paul
Torrance as his assistant at the Bureau of Educational
Research in Minneapolis. All forty puzzles are
available to individuals and organizations interested
in observing and encouraging the development of
perceptual abilities and confidence in independent
decision making both of which characteristics are
believed to be an indispensable part of the well-
rounded mature personality less likely to be the
victim of unscrupulous manipulation.

Trust in one’s own judgment is preferred over a


dependence on the exhortation of others.
For additional information about these puzzles we
refer you to www.tcp.com.mt and for specific needs
you may contact: prh@tcp.com.mt .

Coronato Vella, Chairman, Division of Puzzle


Production.