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1, January 1973

Notes and Comments

A review of Hugh Lytton, Creativity and Education. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. Pp. x+133. Price 1.30 (65p. paperback). PHILIP E. VERNON The University of Calgary

As everyone knows, creativity is a current bandwagon in psychology, especially educational psychology, or to quote Liam Hudson "a boom in the American psychological industry only paralleled by that of programmed learning". There are numerous compilations of contributions by varied authors, such as those edited by B. Ghiselin, (1952), H. H. Anderson (1959), C. W. Taylor & F. Barron (1963), R. L. Mooney and T. A. Razik (1967), S. J. Parnes and H. F. Harding (1962), and Vernon (1970); also books that represent particular viewpoints or approaches to the topic, for example A. Koestler (1964), E. Kris (1952), F. Barron (1969), L. Hudson (1966), E. P. Torrance (1965), A. F. Osborn (1953), R. Harding (1940), and M. A. Wallach & N. Kogan (1965). But there has been a lack of books giving a general, all-round survey of the area, except for A. J. Cropley's Creativity (1967); and Dr. Lytton's new book is broader in scope. It will be particularly useful to teachers or laymen who want to know what, if anything, psychologists have found out and, despite its avoidance of technical details, it can be recommended to psychology students as a brief, well-written introduction to past and current work. In trying to provide a commentary on the present position in creativity research, I can hardly do better than follow Dr. Lytton's organization of the material under four or five main headings: the creative process, measurement, personality, and effects of home and school environment. Definition of Creativity and Nature of the Creative Process. There has been much disputation over definitions. Lytton accepts Bruner's (1962) phrase 'effective surprise' as central, which sounds somewhat inept except that it presumably involves the two widely recognized criteria of novelty and appropriateness. To me the primary meaning of creativity is: "man's capacity to produce new ideas, insights, inventions or artistic objects which are accepted as being of social, spiritual, aesthetic, scientific or technological value. We tend to associate


such outstanding contributions to civilization with the rare man of genius, though recognizing that others produce minor contributions in their various fields . . . More recently, however, the notion of creativity has been extended far more widely by psychologists and educationists (including Bruner and Lytton) to virtually all children and adults who show imaginative, unconventional or original ideas in arts and crafts, in writing, in science projects, in teaching or university research, in manufacture or industry, in domestic activities such as gardening or cooking, and not forgetting child bearing and rearing" (Vernon, 1972). I would doubt the wisdom of this extension, although presumably there is a kind of continuity between da Vinci's, Einstein's and Mozart's creations and those of ordinary humans. But it suggests, first that descriptions of the creative process in great artists or scientists apply, at least in lesser degree, to a young child's constructive play activities or his mother's dressmaking, and secondly that so-called creativity tests will help in the identification of future geniuses, both of which propositions appear highly dubious. Lytton's discussion of the distinction between imagination and creative thinking, also between systematic, logical or stepwise thinking and adventurous or original thinking, is good and it is well illustrated by quotations from Koestler, Poincare, Coleridge, Freud, and many other sources. Most psychologists would agree with the author in rejecting Freud's initial theory of art as substitute gratification or neurotic sublimation, and prefer such theories as Kris's (1952) 'regression in the service of the ego', which imply recourse to 'primary process thinking', and interaction with 'secondary process'. But do such vague, untestable, constructs take us anywhere? About all we know is: (a) that artistic and scientific inspiration often seems to emerge 'out of the blue' presumably the preconscious or unconscious mind; (b) that especially in art this emergence tends to be accompanied by intense emotional excitement; (c) that highly creative persons tend to obtain above average scores on MMPI indicators of psychopathology, though at the same time superior in a measure of Ego strength. Of course there is other relevant work, both clinical (e.g. Carl Rogers, 1954), and experimental (e.g. Wertheimer, 1959), not to speak of rather unreliable introspective reports by creatives and anecdotes about them by their acquaintances. But it is a difficult area in which to make progress, or even to specify differences between the processes underlying artistic creativeness and scientific discovery, or between both of these and more mundane imaginative activities.


Divergent Thinking Tests. Dr. Lytton covers the familiar ground of Guilford's (1950) convergent-divergent distinction, his factors of creativity, Getzels and Jackson's (1962) study, discrepant findings on the separation or overlap of divergent with convergent tests, and the plausible (though weakly authenticated) threshold hypothesis namely that there is a close correlation between 'intelligence' and 'creativity' in below average and average children or adults, but an increasing independence above about IQ 115. Actually the degree of separation seems to depend on three main conditions: (a) the homogeneity of the sample, correlations being lower in more selected groups; (b) the homogeneity of the divergent test battery; WaUaeh & Kogan's (1965) battery consisted of tests very similar in format; (c) the conditions of administration; Wallach & Kogan's individual, oral, untimed divergent battery naturally gave different results from timed, convergent group tests. Whether, as these authors argued, the 'game-like' atmosphere of divergent testing and the 'test-like' or evaluative atmosphere of group testing accounted for the factorial separation, is less certain. As I have shown elsewhere (Vernon, 1971), there is indeed evidence that the conditions of administration, and the precise instructions which influence the S's conception of the divergent task, do make a considerable difference. In my own investigation at Grade 8 level, more relaxed conditions made for greater productivity, and the scores showed higher validity and higher correlations with personality and other variables. But the correlations with convergent intelligence were also higher, not lower. The susceptibility of scores to variations in conditions is an embarrassing feature of divergent tests, and a deterrent to their widespread usage. Stable norms of performance are hardly possible if much depends on the way the tests are given, though of course this feature is less serious in research studies where the investigator can arrange for all his subjects to be tested reasonably uniformly. The other great drawback (never mentioned by advocates of creativity testing) is the tedious and time-consuming scoring. It is unsafe to accept lists of responses prepared on other population samples (e.g. to use Torrance's Minnesota lists in Canada). Hence every response of every subject has to be tabulated, the common and unique or original ones decided, and then each subject scored against these lists. There seems no need for Torrance's scoring of 4 different aspects of creativity, and Wallach's uniqueness scores tend to be poor in reliability. I have found the simple scoring of 2 for unusual responses (given by less than 5 per cent.), 0 for common


ones (given by over 10 per cent.), and 1 for every response in between, quite adequate, since it combines the fluency and originality, or quantity and quality aspects of divergent thinking. But even this may take months of work with a battery of multiitemed divergent tests given to a large group of Ss. Having established that divergent thinking is a measureable entity, at least oblique to if not distinct from conventional intelligence, we can claim from several studies that it has moderately satisfactory stability or retest reliability. But it is much more difficult to say what can be inferred from it what is its validity. Dr. Lytton points out that it is unlikely to predict future genius, and impracticable to attempt such a followup. Guilford-type tests did not differentiate between MacKinnon's (1962) highly creative and less creative groups such as architects, though some other studies are more promising, notably Shapiro's (1968) which showed good concurrent validity among South African scientists who were rated for creative work by supervisors and themselves. Both Hudson (1966) and Cropley (1967) have produced intriguing evidence (on very small numbers) that divergent thinking, measured on entry to university, does not predict first year grades but correlates better with third and fourth years when, one hopes, grades are awarded less for factual knowledge, more for original thinking. Torrance (1969) claims to have shown striking prediction of Ph.D. quality from tests given 7 years earlier. Even if this were replicated, I doubt whether many Psychology Departments would attach much weight to scores on the rather trivial tasks characteristic of most divergent tests in selecting students for doctoral programmes. The tests might do better than Miller Analogies, but I would certainly myself prefer worksample evidence, e.g. the quality of undergraduate dissertations and Master's thesis, and perhaps summary proposals for researching on specimen psychological problems. A compromise approach, which could be scored more objectively and applied earlier in a student's career, would be to devise semi-specialized divergent tests, where the tasks were specifically oriented towards creative thinking in Arts subjects, in Natural Sciences, or in Social Sciences. More appropriate materials than ordinary divergent tests are particularly needed for predicting scientific aptitude if we accept Hudson's finding that bright secondary school scientists tend to be convergers. The most convincing evidence of validity is in predicting creative accomplishments in artistic, literary, scientific, or other self-initiated interest areas among secondary students and young adults, as shown by Wallach & Wing (1969) and by Torrance's


(1969) follow-up studies over 7 and 12 years. I have obtained correlations of .63 among Grade 8 girls and .51 among boys with a composite criterion of artistic and scientific leisure time interests, teacher and peer ratings, and assessment of originality and maturity of English essays. But much of this validity was attributable to the verbal intelligence component of the divergent battery, and when this was held constant, the partial validities were .42 and .29 respectively. Both Schaefer & Anastasi (1968) and C. W. Taylor (1963) have shown that biographical inventories, largely based on creative-interest items, give substantial correlations with assessments of creative achievement among students and professional workers. There is a great deal more miscellaneous and often inconsistent validatory evidence, which gives only partial support to the claim that high divergers are more independent, nonconformist, fluent producers of new ideas, etc. Among younger children, also with nonverbal as against verbal divergent tasks, the tests probably become less reliable and less valid for any purpose, and a good intelligence test especially a relatively nonconvergent individual Terman-Merrill or WISC is likely to give more convenient and better predictions of creative as well as convergent achievements. Some psychologists are a great deal more critical of divergent thinking tests: thus D. P. Ausubel (1968) considers that they measure glibness, uninhibited self-expression, impulsivity and deficient self-criticism. To me the literature provides no more support for this verdict than it does for the beliefs of the most ardent advocates of creativity testing. Personality. In this chapter, Dr. Lytton returns to acknowledged creative adults, as studied by Roe (1952), MacKinnon (1962), Barron (1969) and Cattell (1971) (though omitting the, perhaps less reliable, evidence from historical geniuses, amassed by H. Ellis (1904) and C. M. Cox (1926)). He gives a useful summary which brings out the concordance between these authors, and attests to the solid contribution that psychologists have made in this area. We are still left in a good deal of doubt as to how and why the personalities of outstanding scientists differ from those of artists and writers. (More might have been made of the marked differences Ann Roe found between social scientists and natural scientists, their more frequent childhood maladjustments, marital and other instabilities. It is interesting that university staff and student activists, who are presumably more creative than conformist, so often come from Social Science departments). One of the most useful lines of further research would be clinical studies like Roe's (without Freudian premises)


into the personalities and development of other specialized creatives, such as painters, dramatists and musical composers. At this level, creativity seems to be more a matter of personality and motivation than of measurable abilities. Though the creative individual obviously possesses unusual sensitivity and talent in some particular modality, he is not necessarily very high either in general intelligence nor scholastic achievement (cf. Hudson's studies). Among children or college students generally, psychologists appear to regard divergence as a cognitive style a syndrome which overlaps the domains of intellect and personality. But as indicated above, the personality correlates of divergent thinking are unclear: Getzels & Jackson's findings have received little confirmation, and there is some, but not much, accord with Wallach & Kogan, or with Hudson. Home and School Environment. Again the bulk of our information on family background comes from case study materials such as Roe's and Terman's, and this clearly contradicts the common assumption among child psychologists and psychiatrists that 'giftedness' and creative talent require fostering by insightful, warm and permissive parents. The family relations of the child who grows up to be highly creative are often distant, though the parents seem to provide models of autonomy and to encourage autonomous activities and interests and show tolerance for unusual ideas. Many geniuses indeed (certainly not all) have developed against severe opposition and difficulties, which leads one to doubt how far manipulation of home or schooling can increase mankind's resources of creativity. (This does not, of course, imply that creativity as such is genetically determined; talent often runs in families, outstanding creativity very rarely). However, some effects of environment are better attested by Roe, R. B. Cattell and others, at college level. Many outstanding scientists seem to have been initially galvanized by an inspiring teacher, or by some opportunity to investigate a topic in which they were personally interested. Also, more non-directive graduate schools tend to be more productive of creative scientists than more formally organized ones. As would be expected from Dr. Lytton's title, and his own published research (Haddon & Lytton, 1968), he lays considerable stress on school 'climate' and teaching methods for nurturing creativity in children. He tends to accept Torrance's claim that original responses are increased if the teacher rewards, instead of punishing, them, also Parnes's (1962) view that 'deferred judgment' and synectics can be adapted to school


and college learning, and Crutchfield's (1965) programmed technique for developing adventurous problem-solving. I am doubtful myself of the validatory evidence so far published, and suspect that, while some divergent skills can be developed by training, the effects have very little transfer or permanence. He approves also of certain progressive educational trends such as Headstart and discovery learning and has more reservations about others such as Bereiter & Engelmann's (1966) 'pressurecooker' drill. At the same time he recognizes that schools must pass on much of the traditional culture, that students who fail to acquire basic knowledge have nothing to be creative with, and that there are dangers in encouraging too much creativity and too little critical evaluation. But while his discussion is broad and reasonable, and his final conclusion strikes a note of cautious optimism, I would suggest that psychologists and teachers should also consider Ausubel's (1968) views. He argues that the distinction between discovery and receptive types of learning is quite different from the distinction between meaningful and rote learning, and that methods of instruction based on discovery have very limited effectiveness. Also he considers that creative persons are rare occurrences, and that current notions of creativity in education are confused and misleading. The psychologist should admit that such issues are too complex to be settled by a few crucial experiments. Nevertheless psychologists have contributed much to our understanding of creativity, and there are many avenues open to them for further exploration.
REFERENCES Anderson, H. H. (ed.) Creativity and its Cultivation. New York: Harper & Row, 1959. Ausubel, D. P. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968. Barron, F. The Creative Person and the Creative Process. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969. Bereiter, C. & Engelmann, S. Teaching Disadvantaged Children in the Preschool. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Bruner, J. S. The conditions of creativity. In Gruber, H. E., Terrell, G. & Wertheimer, M. (eds.) Contemporary Approaches to Creative Thinking. New York: Atherton Press, 1962. Cattell, R. B. Abilities: Their Structure, Growth and Action. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. Cox, C. M. The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1926. Cropley, A. J. Creativity. London: Longmans, 1967a. Cropley, A. J. Divergent thinking and science specialists. Nature, 1967b, 215, 671-672. 57

P. E. VERNON Crutchfield, R. S. Instructing the individual in creative thinking. New Approaches to Individualizing Instruction. Princeton, New Jersey: Educational Testing Service, 19G5. Ellis, H. A Study of British Genius. London: Hurst & Blackett, 1904. Getzels, J. W. & Jackson, P. W. Creativity and Intelligence: Explorations with Gifted Students. New York: Wiley, 1962. Ghiselin, B. The Creative Process: A Symposium. University of California Press, 1952. (Mentor Books edn., 1955). Guilford, J. P. Creativity. American Psychologist, 1950, 5, 444-454. Haddon, F. A. & Lytton, H. Teaching approach and the development of divergent thinking abilities in primary schools. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 1968, 38, 171-180. Harding, R. An Anatomy of Inspiration. London: Cass, 1940. Hudson, L. Contrary Imaginations. London: Methuen, 1966. Koestler, A. The Act of Creation. London: Hutchinson, 1964. Kris. E. Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art. New York: Shocken, 1952. MacKinnon, D. W. The personality correlates of creativity: a study of American architects. Proceedings of XIV International Congress of Applied Psychology, Vol. 2. Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1962. Mooney, R. L. & Razik, T. A. Explorations in Creativity. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Osborn, A. F. Applied Imagination. New York: Scribner, 1953. Parnes, S. J. & Harding, H. F. A Source Book for Creative Thinking. New York: Scribner, 1962. Roe, A. The Making of a Scientist. New York: Dodd Mead, 1952. Rogers, C. R. Toward a theory of creativity. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 1954, 11, 249-260. Reprinted in Anderson, H. H. (ed.) Creativity and its Cultivation. New York: Harper & Row, 1959. Schaefer, C. E. & Anastasi, A. A biographical inventory for identifying creativity in adolescent boys. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1968, 52, 42-48. Shapiro, R. J. Creative research scientists. Psychologia Africana, Monograph Supplement No. 4,1968. Taylor, C. W. & Barron, F. (eds.) Scientific Creativity: Its Recognition and Development, New York: Wiley, 1963. Torrance, E. P. Rewarding Creative Behavior. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1965. Torrance, E. P. Prediction of adult creative achievement among high school seniors. Gifted Child Quarterly, 1969, 13, 223-229. Vernon, P. E. (ed.) Creativity. London: Penguin, 1970. Vernon, P. E. Effects of administration and scoring on divergent thinking tests. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 1971,
41, 245-257.

Vernon, P. E. Creativity. Encyclopaedic Handbook of Medical Psychology. London: Butterworth, 1972 (in press). Wallach, M. A. & Kogan, N. Modes of Thinking in Young Children: A Study of the Creativity-Intelligence Distinction. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1965. Wallach, M. A. & Wing, C. W. The Talented Student: A Validation of the Creativity-Intelligence Distinction. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969. Wertheimer, M. Productive Thinking. London: Tavistock, 1959. 58

CREATIVITY L'ouvrage recent du Dr. H. Lytton sert ici de point de depart a une evaluation de la litterature courante sur la creativite. L'auteur signale la confusion qui existe entre la creativite du genie artistique ou scientifique et celle de 1'enfant ou de l'adulte ordinaire, cette derniere etant particulierement difficile a definir. Les epreuves de pensee divergente souleyant plus d'un probleme, mais la recherche indique une certaine validite de eonstruit meme si les tests ne mesurent pas les qualites creatrices vises par leurs auteurs. La psychologie a peut etre des contributions plus substantielles a son credit dans ses etudes sur la personnalite creatrice et sur sa formation. La stimulation de la creativite par les conditions d'ordre scolaire ou par le "lessivage de cerveau" aurait une valeur plus discutable.