At a young age, it was a clear understanding that my mother was a very creative person. She had transformed our basement into the ultimate play area that any child would dream of having. The walls were painted telling the story of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robins alongside their friends as they explored the Hundred Acre Wood. Ordinary cabinets were turned into giant six foot dominos and bland white tables were painted to feel as if you were attending a fairy tea party. Every detail in our basement was perfected; yet, her ideas did not stop there, she had painted and added murals to give loving vibes throughout our home. When I began school it became evident that I too possessed the same creative characteristics that my mother has. I believed that everyone was just as creative as me and my mother yet, when I discovered that creativity didn’t come naturally to them I wondered why. Why are some humans more creative than others?
Steve Jobs once said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they got something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it they just saw something.” Creativity is more than just inherited genes, it is a way of thinking. Psychologists define creativity as divergent thinking, which is the ability to conclude answers and theories by using many different solutions. People who think divergently don’t use logical steps in order to reach an answer, but instead use spontaneous ideas to discover an answer.
Divergent thinking has been believed to be connected to understanding concepts in one’s long term memory. The picture below explains how one thought connected other thoughts in order to determine the answer. This process is called ‘semantic networking’. For example, the thought process of getting to the word sunsets all started from the word street. Obviously the two words are not at all connected, but by bouncing off other ideas, or words, a divergent thinker can go from street to sunset without any problems. By being able to connect concepts to achieve different answers proves that one is a divergent thinker.
An experiment conducted by Edward Neckaa and Teresa Hlawaczb was between 60 bankers and 60 artists to understand the difference between divergent, creative thinking and temperament, logical thinking. It was discovered that the artists did posses the temperament thinking just like the bankers; however, the artists scored much higher on the divergent thinking process than the artists did. According to Neckaa and Hlawaczb, the artists possessed characteristics such as briskness, endurance, and activity which shows that more creative people are able to understand and change their way of thinking quicker than temperament thinkers are. As the experiment concluded, the most interesting piece of evidence the scientists took away was that temperament thinking is at the base of all creativity. So, if the artists weren’t able to think logical like the bankers, they would not be able to think divergently.
So are you a divergent thinker?
Here is a link that can help you determine if you’re a more temperament or divergent thinker: