Creativity is hard to define and even harder to measure, but a new four-minute test is creating an easy and elegant way to measure at least one of the most common characteristics of this very human trait.
The test is simple and consists of a question with ten answers: Can you think of two words that have nothing in common? And five, ten?
By measuring the semantic difference between the ten submitted words, a deep learning algorithm can “score” one of the most detectable aspects of creativity: the ability to mentally bridge the conceptual gap between things, called “divergent thinking.”
Called the Divergent Association Task (DAT), it was formulated by a research team from McGill, Harvard and the University of Melbourne. Jay Olson, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, had the idea for a children’s game.
In a study of 9,000 people, Olson showed that his childhood game was smarter for his age, as the scores followed similar patterns seen on two other common creativity tests.
The first was the Alternative Uses Task, which asks participants to think of novel uses for an object and judges the distance between the stated use and the answers given.
The second was the Associative Bridge-the-Gap Test, which provides testers with two words, for example, “book” and “wood,” and asks them to provide a third that links the two, for example, “bookshelf.” .
Of people between 7 and 70 years old, in 98 countries, it was found in the study, published in PNAS, that demographics mattered very little, with a slight statistical advantage given to younger people and women, but overall the results suggested that anyone can be creative. T
The algorithm meant that since scores were not judged by any human being, the ultimate example of bias could be overcome: creative preference.
“Creativity is fundamental to human life,” Olson told his university press. “The more we understand its complexity, the better we can foster creativity in all its forms.”
Most of us would think of creativity as the end product that we all enjoy, like a painting, a symphony, or a poem, but far below, and often months before a composer gets to lead the orchestra, it often begins. bending the rules.
Music fans will know that the sound of the Mississippi Delta Blues in America emerged when guitarists began using the diminished fifth note when playing minor scales or minor chords, which was a sound considered for over a century so distasteful that it became in taboo. His scales and minor chords went from sounding sad like a Disney movie sounds sad, to something totally different, but he started by dissociating correlated patterns of thought and behavior.
Another easy example for canvas fans is that of Van Gogh, whose act of painting ordinary things in colors that do not exist changed the art scene in which he became popular. Again, it started with a person who was simply able to dissociate the things that his mind had held together.
“Our task measures only one part of one type of creativity,” says Olson. “But these findings allow evaluations of creativity in larger and more diverse samples with less bias, which will ultimately help us better understand this fundamental human ability.”
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