With how much innovation and development occur in 21st-century society, it’s easy to assume that creativity follows a similarly meteoric rise. Virtual reality video games. Fusion Cuisine, combining the practices of disparate cultures. Barrier-breaking performance art. All of these experiences take a high level of creativity to conceptualize and see through from the design process to the finished product. But a study from the early 2010s shows that people’s creativity in the United States is not rising, at least not by established psychological measures.
Creativity measures have declined since 1990, at least according to studies that build off the work of the infamous E. Paul Torrance’s Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). The TTCT, initially designed as a tool for determining how to best teach children of any ability level, is often used to measure changes in creativity over time through its dual approach of language and imagery.
The assessment of massive TTCT data stores shows some troubling trends: Successive generations scoring lower on creativity during their formative years seems to carry through into the rest of adulthood. This decline in divergent thinking manifests itself in multiple ways, including an inability to expand upon ideas, less motivation for creative endeavors, and an overall reduction in creative expression within our major cultural institutions.
It’s not hard to imagine why a world without creativity should be avoided. Influential artwork, innovative technology, workplace performance, and, of course, human happiness are all inexorably tied to this trait. So, to encourage and incentivize more divergent thinking in our culture, we first need to isolate and stem the bleeding that is happening in the first place.(more…)