The Creativity / IQ Interface:

Old Answers and Some New Questions

Maria McCann

Senior Lecturer in Gifted Education

School of Special Education and Disability Studies Telephone: (08) 201 3425

Faculty of Education Humanities Law & Theology Fax: (08) 201 3210

Flinders University

GPO Box 2100

Adelaide 5001


This paper is reporting on research in progress on my own study which examines the nature of intelligence, creativity, and giftedness, and the unique role that visual thinking ability plays in the determination of these characteristics. Although this paper is focusing on the nature of the IQ / creativity interface, the wider study examines the effectiveness of a program of specialised teaching, designed for gifted students, in bringing about changes in measurements of creativity and intelligence in students nominated as exhibiting high intellectual potential. The study also details the design of a pilot instrument of visual thinking, and validates it against the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) Figural Forms A and B. In addition, scores on the Raven's Progressive Matrices provide this study with new data on the creativity-intelligence distinction referred to in many studies on advanced intelligence.

Definitions of giftedness sometimes include the concepts of creativity as well as psychometric intelligence (Getzels & Jackson, 1962; Wallace & Wing, 1965; Guilford, 1967, 1988; Renzulli, 1974, 1986; Torrance, 1989; Sternberg, 1988, 1990; Sternberg & Lubart, 1991). Other definitions separate advanced intelligence into giftedness (assuming an innate ability) and talent (based on performance) and conclude that creativity may be one domain of ability (Gagne, 1985).

This paper argues that creativity is a central factor in the configuration and measurement of general intelligence and that its failure to feature in some definitions of intelligence is a result of difficulty with identification and assessment procedures, and the pluralistic nature of creative intelligence itself.

The debate on the intelligence-creativity distinction is relevant to this research because the studies which have examined the correlations of creativity measures with psychometric measures of intelligence have generally found only a moderate to low correlation (MacKinnon, 1978; Reis and Renzulli, 1982; Davis and Rimm, 1989). Conversely, whilst advanced measures of psychometric intelligence do not guarantee advanced creativity, low creativity scores attend low IQ scores (McNemar, 1964 in Khatena, 1992). Deficiencies in both IQ testing and creativity testing have been noted, raising problems with content validity and standardisation. Torrance (1962, 1970, 1989) has defended creativity testing, indicating that the TTCT identifies the gifted population more reliably than IQ tests. Although, the TTCT is generally recognised as the best available test of creativity, and the most often cited in current research, the shortfalls of theTTCT and other tests of creativity have been noted (Wallace and Kogan, 1965; Wallace, 1970; Simonton, 1988; Lubart, 1990) with creativity measurements failing to identify subjects at the upper levels of IQ (Khatena, 1992).

This paper proposes to clarify the concept of creativity and to offer an assessment of it within a context which has greater accuracy, usefulness and ease of scoring for teachers than any previous designs. The active, practical dimension to this study is presented in the design and execution of a university enrichment program for the students nominated by their teachers as gifted. The measurements of IQ and creativity before and after the teaching intervention are presented in the wider study. As T.S. Eliot has so aptly put it: "To make an end is to make a beginning ... the end is where we begin" and, like any rigorous academic work, the completion of this study raises as many new questions as it addresses.

The IQ: the measure of "g"

The seventeenth century philosophical and mathematical viewpoint of dualism espoused by Rene Descartes asserts, "there are two separate kinds of substance: 'mind-stuff' and ordinary matter (Penrose, 1989,21). Since Spearman's (1927) proposal that intelligence consists of a general ability, labelled g, and specific, non-generalisable abilities, researchers have sought to discover the nature of this g, the 'mind-stuff, and to find a method of accurately assessing and of enriching it.

In Spearman's (1927) determination of what constitutes intelligence, the most critical factor was viewed as the general one, g, which influences performance on all intellectual tasks. The other kinds of factors were called specific, and they were not generalisable. As such these highly specific abilities have traditionally been of little interest to psychologists trying to construct theories to explain individual differences among people.

From Spearman's point of view, general intelligence is viewed as existing on a single dimension and not as being some multi-faceted phenomenon. People who behave intelligently in one situation should behave intelligently in other situations. Despite the diversity of theories, most psychometricians and other researchers into the nature of intelligence agree that there is a general factor of intelligence - g - but that there are also "lower-level" factors, reflective of more specific skills. These skills may be defined as specific talents in culturally acknowledged fields such as dance or art, or they may be reflected in other areas not necessarily recognised by society as evidence of intellectual performance - those exhibited by 'the pin-ball wizards'.

This g factor has more recently been referred to in terms of a central or basic processing mechanism (BPM)(Anderson, 1992; Detterman, 1987; Nettelbeck & Vita, 1990). Anderson (1992) based his theory of intelligence around the concept of three Modules:

1) ecological visual perception (Marr, 1982)
2) language (Chomsky, 1986)

3) aspects of speech perception (Fodor, 1983).

(Anderson, 1992, p.74-75).

A central, unitary view of g has not always been assumed. Although Gardener's (1983, 1985, 1997) theory of Multiple Intelligences is most often cited, as early as 1938, Thurstone had proposed seven primary mental abilities. Near the end of his career, Thurstone conceded that his primary mental abilities typically do correlate with each other, suggesting a general factor of intelligence. Doppelt (1950) contended that the g factor is actually made up of various competencies (Tannenbaum,1983, p.97). As the person matures, some specific competencies, such as rote skills and memory, seem to detach themselves from the general mass and may be identified as distinct abilities or factors.

Cattell (1963) argued that the g factor is represented by two kinds of ability:

Fluid ability refers to success in adapting to new situations in which previously learned skills are of no advantage. Form of intelligence - inductive, figural, general reasoning.

Crystallised ability - may be described as breadth of knowledge, sophistication, the intelligence of experience, appropriation of the intelligence of one's culture.

Crystallised intelligence continues to grow with experience. Fluid intelligence declines gradually.

In these studies we find the origin of the present terms gifted and talented: Gifted being the original concept of fluid intelligence and talented being the crystallised intelligence.

Guilford (1980) argued that the concepts are fanciful and represent only a vague, limited approach to intellectual functioning. Guilford viewed the crystallised intelligence as basic form of specific talent and the fluid intelligence as separate intellectual specifically cognitive functions.

Sternberg and his colleagues (1981) referred to such conceptions as Implicit theories of intelligence and contrasted them with Explicit theories that psychologists and educators construct when generating their formal models and measures of mental functioning.

Gardner (1983, 1985, 1997) and others (Feldhusen & Baska in Feldhusen, Van Tassel-Baska & Seely,1989; Maker,1989) still argue in favour of discrete, multiple abilities. Sternberg's (1981, 1985, 1986,1990, 1996) research supports multiple strategies, rather than abilities, and presents the hierarchy of strategies or metacomponents as an explanation of differences in intellectual functioning.

It has been argued that IQ tests traditionally measure and define only those directly observable traits and that other less observable traits equally contribute to intellectual functioning. The term non- intellective functioning has been used, which is an interesting term as it is difficult to think of any such behaviour (dancing? playing pinball? kissing?) which is devoid of intelligence. The issue of these so-called non-intellective functions as a determining factor in intelligence has been debated (Renzulli, 1978; Piechowski, 1979; Tannenbaum, 1983, 1986), with factors such as motivation or task commitment (Renzulli, 1978) and personality variables (Eysenck, 1983, 1986) included in profiles of general intelligence.

Piechowski (1979) advanced the concept of Developmental Potential (DP). He defined this as " the original endowment which determines what level of development a person may reach under optimal conditions". DP is made up of special talents and abilities plus Dabrowski's notion of "overexcitability". This "overexcitability" is an intense visceral reaction to experience that expresses itself in five forms : sensual, emotional, intellectual, kinesthetic and imaginational It is indeed a moot point as to where the intellective begins and the non-intellective ends. Many would argue that it is exactly these "overexcitable" characteristics that are responsible for the quantum leaps made by the truly great thinkers.

Approaches such as these have led to a debate on intelligence and cognition as possibly discrete properties. Anderson's (1990) theory defends the psychometric concept of g but proposes that this g is a property of a low-level information processing mechanism - in short, "the day of the intelligent synapse is upon us" (p.27). Anderson argues that while this basic processing mechanism is fixed and does not develop with age or other factors, cognitive abilities, in their myriad of forms (verbal, spatial, mathematical, reasoning, memory), reveal a "clear developmental pattern" (p. 5).

Despite the range of viewpoints regarding the nature of cognition and psychometric intelligence, most research studies relying on stringent laboratory experiments, conclude that subject response times for elementary cognitive tasks (ECTS) are significantly correlated to g-factor scores obtained from conventional psychometric tests (Bjorklund, 1989, 219). There is a greater degree of variance attributable to g in higher ability and lower ability groups (Anderson, 1990). At all ability levels, the asymptotic development of psychometric intelligence with age is well established. Anderson (1990) has challenged this view with his argument that, "intelligence does not develop" (p.1). This proposed central processing mechanism functions at a fixed level of efficiency across age. These studies are now challenging traditional insights into the nature of g and the attendant role of cognitive strategies and non- intellective properties. Speed of functioning (such as reaction time, inspection time, storage and recall) has emerged as a fundamental consideration to the assessment of g and the relative ease of assessing such functioning has reinforced the viewpoint of many psychometricians that IQ results, based on strictly timed, standardised tests, are a reliable indicator of

Enter the creativity:

'I have the trick of it now ... all it needs is belief, (David Malouf, An Imaginary Life)

The role of creativity in determining general intelligence has traditionally been of secondary consideration to the more observable and quantifiable primary cognitive traits which may be identified in psychometric intelligence testing.

Since Guilford's (1956) inclusion of divergent thinking skills in the Structure of the Intellect model, researchers such as Torrance (1962) have included the posits of creativity (fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration), in the determination of intelligence. Clark (1988; 1992) presents a model of creativity as "the highest expression of giftedness" (p. 47). The model shows the integration of the four areas of thinking, feeling, intuition and sensing as necessary for creative intelligence to develop.

Most theorists have attributed multiple components - generally from four to six core characteristics - to creative ability (Guilford, 1950; Guilford, 1967; Torrance, 1966; Clark, 1989; Nickerson, Perkins & Smith, 1985; Sternberg, 1988; Sternberg & Lubart, 1991; Khatena, 1992; Colangelo & Davis, 1997). These components usually stem from external factors as well as intrinsic abilities, and, as Sternberg (1990) has indicated, are formulated as explicit as well as implicit theories. There is little agreement as to what creativity is, as evidenced in, "the number and variety of definitions and tests for creativity and their weak real-world predictive validities" (Hocevar, 1981; Mumford & Gustafson, 1988; Sternberg, 1984; cited in Albert, 1990). The only consensus among researchers of creativity is that it is a highly complex concept which is central to intelligence, but which is difficult to define, to observe, and to measure. Gardner's most recent definition of a creative individual has a sociological basis to it, rather than being based on specific identifiable characteristics:

Gardner's (1997) definition of a creative individual: " ... a person who regularly solves problems, fashions products, or defines new questions in a domain in a way that is initially considered novel but that ultimately becomes accepted in a particular cultural setting"

Characteristics of highly creative people suggest that these people may not perform well on standarised IQ measurements where one right answer is the only alternative. Davis (Davis in Colangelo & Davis, 1997, p.275) has identified the following characteristics from his own research, focusing initially on the positive aspects of high creativity:

    1. Aware of creativeness
    2. Original
    3. Independent
    4. Risk-taking
    5. Energetic
    6. Curious
    7. Sense of humour
    8. Attracted to complexity
    9. Artistic
    10. Open-minded
    11. Needs alone time
    12. Intuitive

The down side of high creativity:

    1. Indifferent to conventions and courtesies
    2. Challenges rules and authority
    3. Rebellious, uncooperative
    4. Capricious, careless, disorderly
    5. Absentminded, forgetful
    6. Argumentative, cynical, sarcastic
    7. Sloppy with details and unimportant matters
    8. Egocentric, tolerant, tactless
    9. Temperamental, emotional
    10. Overactive physically and mentally


In addition to these characteristics, the complexity of creativity is evident in its myriad of forms and functions, for example:

    1. Individuals can be creative in any part - or all parts - of their personal, educational, and adult professional lives
    2. Cognitive and non-cognitive traits must combine to orient students toward creativity thinking
    3. Some persons are high in self-actualised creativity whilst others show special-talent creativity and may not even be mentally healthy
    4. Some have small-scale creative insights : others large-scale.
    5. Creativity can be forced for some but it also happens suddenly and unpredictably.
    6. Creative innovation may stem from hard work and planning; it may also be sudden inspiration and insight.
    7. Creativity involves logical thinking and analysis as well as irrational and unrestrained fantasy.
    8. Creative talent will remain repressed and hidden without a psychologically safe social and cultural environment that supplies opportunities and reinforcement for creativity.
    9. Problem finding is a hallmark of creative accomplishment -
      • closed problems/ closed solutions
      • closed problems / open solutions
      • open problem finding / closed solutions
      • and true creativity - open problem finding / open solutions

(Davis in Colangelo & Davis, 1997)

Cohen-Shalev (1993) affirms the "complex and ambiguous" nature of creativity yet proposes one necessary condition for it which is currently accepted - "that it be publicly acknowledged to have made a meaningful contribution in its field" (p.106). This notion places creativity within an adult sphere only as, "children, for all their ingenuity and inventiveness have rarely, if ever, produced outstanding contributions in any field" (p.106). Cohen-Shalev's overview of literary or verbal creativity highlights the necessity for "conflict or enduring dilemma" (p.107). His general conclusions about creativity rely on the need for paradox, opposities, and ambivalences, summarised in his term, "a core dilemma"(p.107). The conceptualisation of creativity as a life-span development rests on the assessment of "the artist's oeuvre in its entirety", where "personal documents - and particularly works of art - offer legitimate, indeed indispensable, data for the study of creativity development" (p.107). Dellas & Gaier's (1970) paper reviews creativity research within the cognitive and personological investigative orientations of five parameters of creativity as they affect the individual: 1. intellectual factors and cognitive styles associated with creativity 2. creativity as related/unrelated to intelligence 3. personality aspects of creativity 4. potential creativity 5. motivational aspects associated with creativity.

Brown (1989, in Glover et al, 1989, p.4) has indicated that most theorists study creativity as both an intervening variable, used to explain relations between stimuli and responses, and a trait. Creativity itself, according to Brown, consists of at least four components:

(1) the creative process,
(2) the creative product,

(3) the creative person, and

(4) the creative situation.

Brown's research states that the divergent thinking approach to the study of the creative process is the most reliable channel of exploration as it, 'has the most explicitly developed theoretical base, underlies most creativity tests, and has generated the most research" (Brown, 1989, in Glover et al, p.3). The term 'divergent thinking" stems originally form the work of J.P. Guilford (1967) and his Structure of The Intellect Model (SOI) which specified 180 unique cognitive factors identified under three types of function: mental operations, contents, and products. Divergent thinking is identified as one of the six mental operations. It is interesting to note that the remaining five mental operations: evaluation, convergent production, memory retention, memory recording, and cognition, can all be measured with the use of an IQ test. Guilford's model was not the first to include the notion of creativity as an aspect of intelligence. As early as 1896, Binet and Henri (in Freeman, 1924) proposed that imagination should be one of the ten major mental functions to be measured in intelligence testing. They later discarded this item in their testing, however, as 'the predictive success and interest in analysis of standard intelligence tests seem to have diverted attention from the potential value of open-ended tests" (Brown, 1989, in Glover et al, 1989, p.5).

One of the most useful theories of creativity is the multifaceted view taken by Stemberg and Lubart (1991). Instead of referring to components of creativity, Sternberg rests his theory on six resources for creativity: intellectual processes, knowledge, intellectual style, personality, motivation, and environmental context. Their theory stresses that a confluence of these resources is necessary for creativity. Sternberg has indicated that his theory focuses on creative performance rather than creative potential - 'given a substantive product, such as an artist's painting, the evaluation of creativity can proceed' (Sternberg & Lubart, 1991, p.3). This idea of the necessity for a product has been referred to in many theories of creativity, which rely on a cognitive, associative basis of creativity as opposed to theories which place the origin for creative behaviour in the unconsciousness. The views of social psychologists also reflect the need for a product - "the offered creative product must succeed in the domain of interpersonal influence; that is, it must be accepted by others with an active involvement in the same area of creative endeavour" (Simonton, 1988, p.394). Definitions relying on the notion of a product may sound almost trite in their perceptions of creativity e.g., "creative persons are persons who, by virtue of their creativity, frequently make creative products' (Nickerson, Perkins & Smith, 1985, p.87), yet this contextual view of creativity is more acceptable in the current literature than earlier, narrow views of creativity which regarded it in more cognitive terms (e.g. Guilford, 1950).

Sternberg and Lubart call their theory of creativity an Investment theory, taking the view that, "to the extent that true creativity seems rare, it may be because many people are not willing to invest in it" (Sternberg & Lubart, 1991, p.1). In focussing on creative performance, they have isolated the issue of topic selection as a critical factor in determining creativity, e.g. taste in selection of scientific problems (as cited in Zuckerman, 1983) and taste by creative artists in their choice of problems for visual expression (as cited in Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976). Sternberg has drawn his investment theory of creativity from his own triarchic theory of intelligence which views intelligence as comprising three aspects:

the components of intelligence

the levels of experience, and

the context.

Creativity is relevant to each of these aspects. Sternberg's triarchic theory (Sternberg,1985) has gone beyond earlier, single theories of intelligence by emphasising that what constitutes intelligent behaviour (componential subtheory) is an incomplete theory without the experiential and contextual subtheories to support it. The previously cited work of Nickerson et al (1985) indicates that creative products must be appropriate as well as original. This concept of appropriateness is in keeping with the notion of meaningful topic selection (Sternberg & Lubart, 1991) and earlier research which indicated that intellectually gifted children (as determined by an IQ score) gave less time to irrelevant novel information in problem solving than their non-gifted peers (Marr & Sternberg, 1986, in Bjorklund, 1989, p.217).

In testing the investment theory of creativity, Sternberg and Lubart (1991, p.19) found that the intellectual processing resource correlated most significantly with creativity. The essence of this intellectual processing lay in the following abilities:

Selective encoding - the noticing of potentially relevant information for the solution of a problem from amidst a stream of information. A good selective encoder is an individual who can pull from the endless stream of incoming information that which he or she needs in order to deal with the task at hand.

Selective comparison - the perception of an analogy v between the 91 old and the new. This linked closely with divergent thinking skills and the ability to make remote associates.

Selective combination - putting disparate pieces of information together in a novel and useful way. It is linked to the concept of Janusian thinking, or the simultaneous integration of opposite or antithetical thoughts. (Sternberg & Lubart, 1991, p.8)

It is interesting to note here that the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) specify two channels of assessment - verbal and figural - and that these forms are assessed through the functions of fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration. The Sternberg addition of the quantitative function relates most strongly to the Torrance concept of fluency. In terms of its design it would appear to be closely aligned to tests of creativity as well as to standardised IQ tests in its reliance on the "ability learn than on what has been learned" (Dickenson, 1991, p.79). The STAT is also quite emphatically not 'culture free", as Sternberg claims, "it is impossible ..... to create a test that is genuinely immune to the effects of prior experience or that is culture-free, because intelligence cannot be tested outside the boundaries of a culture" (Sternberg, 1991, in Dickinson, p.79). It is interesting to note as an example here, the fact that Einstein probably would have performed badly on a WISC if only because of his lack of proficiency in verbal skills. Much of the literature examining Einstein's thinking refers to the visual nature of his thought processes: "and because visual thinking is often erroneously considered more primitive and more characteristic of childhood than verbal thinking, some have asserted that Einstein thought as a child thinks. This type of conclusion roughly coincides with many psychoanalytic formulations about creativity that postulate the regressive, primitive roots of creative thinking' (Rothenberg, 1979, p.38).

Janusian thinking will be referred to in the broader study rather than within the confines of this brief paper. It would appear to be the key to understanding the myriad of theories on creative intelligence, as, "it is not at all merely a manifestation of Guilford's "divergent thinking", Koestler's "bisociation', De Bono's "lateral thinking, or Mednick's formulation of the bringing together of remote associates. It is a directed thought process involving active formulation rather than association or bisociation" (Rothenberg, 1979, p.42). In short, reasoning and logic is required in an assessment of creative intelligence.

Measuring Creativity and the Design of an instrument to explore Visual Thinking

Without a conception of virtue, one cannot evaluate anything (Elliot Eisner, 1985, p. 5)

Standardised tests such as IQ tests constitute the basis of most formal measurements of intelligence. Researchers such as Robert J. Sternberg and Howard Gardner have been critical of the narrow range of many such tests currently in use and advocate the need for a different way of measuring the diverse nature of human intellectual ability. Sternberg in particular states that 'the tests used today are little better than tests used three decades ago and are, in many cases, the same tests. He believes that the weakness of these tests is not the kind of items they contain, but rather their lack of a viable theory base' (Clark, 1992, p.204). Sternberg questions articles from the Weschler Intelligence Test for Children (WISC), for example, such as "What does turpentine come from?', "Who was Anne Frank?" and 'What does dilatory mean?" as items completely lacking in theoretical basis. Anderson (1992), whilst acknowledging the predictive and comparative value of IQ testing, recognises its limitations, and suggests that its main strength lies in testing the efficiency of a knowledge-acquisition mechanism (p.211). Anderson views knowledge acquisition as the core ability within the basic processing mechanism which defines intelligence.

Given the general level of disillusionment regarding the use of the IQ measure as an assessment of intelligence, alternative measures need to be explored. If the notion of creativity is as central to the notion of intelligence as previously stated, then reliable assessment of creativity must be of value to researchers and educators working in the field - "interest has been growing concerning the possible limitations of the concept of intelligence in understanding individual differences in cognitive functioning. The term "creativity" ... represents an aspect of thinking which is as important to assess in its own right as is intelligence" (Wallach & Kogan,1965, p.1).

However the apparent lack of any theoretical basis is also a major problem underpinning formal assessments of creativity to date. Problems with validity and reliability have been previously cited (Chapter 3), and very current research is almost damming of the concept of measuring or evaluating creativity, claiming "there is good reason to doubt the validity of all of the available divergent thinking tests' (Baer, 1994, p. 80). The available tests of creativity have been criticised not only on the basis of "their weak real-world predictive validities" (Albert 1990, p. X), but also on the very subjective nature of their scoring system and the necessity for highly trained assessors to all agree on the relevant criteria. This has particularly been a complaint of practising classroom teachers, wishing to gain keener insights into assessing and teaching for creativity, as, 'evaluations of creativity are restricted to an elite group of judges' (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988 in Sternberg & Lubart, 1991, p. 17) and left out of the hands of those for whom the information would be most useful. Even in the most rigorous research programs into assessing creativity, this issue of scoring subject responses is a major concern: "In general we expect some degree of consensus in judgement of creativity (Amabile, 1982) although the consensus will be imperfect because each rater will be coming from a slightly different context with values that are likely to differ ... our judgements of creativity will depend upon these evaluations and therefore may not always be the same' (Sternberg & Lubart, 1991, p. 6).

'The range of creativity tests have traditionally attempted to measure performance in both the verbal and the figural spheres. The figural has more recently been cited as the most reliable as it supposedly avoids the cultural bias that is inherent in assessments relying on a language basis (Jellen & Urban, 1989). Jellen and Urban claim that their test for creative thinking-drawing production is "culture-fair, culture-sensitive, and gender-fair/sensitive" (p.78). This paper argues however that this is not the case.

The connections between visual thinking ability, visual art ability, general intelligence, and creativity have not been widely researched. Generally they are regarded as separate but possibly connected talents. The notion of assessing general intelligence outside of the realm of visual art ability is quite acceptable as evidenced by the absence of such assessments in most teacher/parent/peer checklist or nomination forms for gifted students, and most IQ tests. It is interesting to note the statement from Khatena (1992), that 'to identify a student who is gifted in art, some consideration needs to be given to intelligence' (p.153). Yet the reverse is not implied, i.e. to identify an intellectually gifted student, consideration needs to be given to art ability. This is no doubt a cultural phenomenon reflecting the view that, "it is generally perfectly alright to be artistically incompetent in our culture' (Benjafield, 1992, p.307). Khatena does indicate, however, that, 'students who are highly talented in art are generally quite bright' (1992, p.153). Other research findings have confirmed this belief, that, 'drawing is generally a valid expression of intelligence and as such correlates well with IQ tests' (Dileo, 1973 in Clark, G., 1989), although more research is required here.

In an overview of research which could be seen to counteract this viewpoint, Benjafield (1992) suggests that, "artistic competence appears to be an example of an intelligence that can exist separately from other forms of intelligence' (p.314). He cites the research of O'Connor and Hermelin (1987) and their work with idiot savants who exhibited very superior forms of artistic ability. The research by O'Connor and Hermelin (1987) resulted in their conclusion that it is possible to exhibit "an IQ- independent graphic ability" (p315). It is important to note here however that of the four artistic abilities assessed by O'Connor and Hermelin - recognition of designs, matching of designs, reproduction of designs, and copying of designs - "reproduction and copying scores were determined by level of artistic ability and not by general intelligence" (Benjafield, 1992, p.314) and it was in the fields of reproduction and copying that the subjects excelled.

The limited research on analog drawings confirms that although no two drawings are alike, there is marked similarity in the structures of the drawings that express a single concept. This raises the question of meaning in language and parallel meaning in drawings - i.e. "does this parallel language read similarly for everyone, at least for people from similar cultures? ... If so, it would seem to provide additional evidence that there might be a deep structure of visual form underlying human art that is wired into the human brain in a manner similar, perhaps, to the way in which Noam Chomsky has postulated such a structure for human verbal expression. The analog drawings seem to indicate the possible existence of such a structure" (Edwards, 1986, p-76). If there does exist the visual equivalent of Chomsky's language universals then a knowledge of these would be essential in any assessment of visual thinking ability or figural creative ability. Indeed Aiken (1988) would be quite incorrect in his assertion that, "the ultimate judge of artistic merit is the observer alone' (p.257). There do appear to be universals in artistic or figural thinking ability - abilities closer to the nature of encoding visual stimuli, rather than decoding or copying it - and if the essence of these abilities can be identified then they can surely be measured. How closely aligned such abilities are to the nature of general intelligence is yet to be determined.

Just as an explorer penetrates into new and unknown lands, one makes discoveries in the everyday life, and the ertswhile mute surroundings begin to speak a language which becomes increasingly clear.
(Kandinsky, 1947, in Edwards, 1986, p.111)

It is proposed in this paper that ability in visual thinking - as evidenced through figural or visual art ability - is a powerful general ability, albeit one that is currently difficult to measure. Indeed, the absence of any creativity-equivalent to the standardised IQ test score may explain why the 'creativity equivalent of Spearman's g, or general intellectual factor, appears to be the Holy Grail of creativity researchers' (Brown, 1989, in Glover, Ronning & Reynolds, 1989, p.4).

Some studies have reported low correlations between giftedness, as measured by IQ testing, and creativity (Getzels & Jackson, 1962, 1963; Wallach & Kogan, 1965). In particular the findings of Waflach & Kogan confirmed that "the creativity and intelligence measures are relatively independent of each other" (Wallach & Kogan, 1965, p.48). This is an interesting phenomenon as, 'on the surface it would seem clear that creativity should be the highest manifestation of intellectual performance, not separate from it (Gallagher & Courtright in Sternberg & Davidson, 1986, p.103). Other studies have indicated that there is a correlation between intelligence (as indicated by the IQ assessment) and creativity, but only up until a mild to moderate evaluation of each criteria. At the levels of moderate to profound creativity and/or IQ - those subjects who would be rated as gifted - the correlations have not been found.

A justification for the figural mode in an assessment:

Any idea that ignores the necessary role of intelligence in production of works of art is based upon identification of thinking with use of one special kind of material, verbal signs and words ... indeed, since words are easily manipulated in mechanical ways, the production of a work of genuine art probably demands more intelligence than does most of the so-called thinking that goes on among those who pride themselves on being 'intellectuals'. (Dewey, in Eisner, 1985, p.173)

Educators such as Torrance (1979) have also been critical of the narrow range of abilities assessed by IQ tests and have stressed the importance of creativity testing in the determination of giftedness: "it seems obvious that the rational and logical processes involved in intelligence tests are called into play in the process of creative thinking, especially in evaluating alternatives, making decisions, and the like' (1979, p. 361). It is uncommon for creative thinking to be regarded as in any way logical or rational and this no doubt explains its exclusion from standardised testing. Torrance's own tests of creative thinking drew upon Guilford's Structure of the Intellect model, focusing on the four key items:

Fluency - the production of many ideas
Originality - the uniqueness of ideas

Flexibility - the modifiability of ideas

Elaboration - the extension of ideas.

The actual tests, the Torrance tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) have been divided into the verbal aspects of creative thinking and the figural aspects (see Appendix A). Jellen & Urban (1989) have produced a Test for Creative Thinking- Drawing Production (TCT-DP). The researchers decided on figural stimuli rather than verbal in order to achieve what they claim to be culture fairness. The test relies on six incomplete figural fragments which mirror diverse characteristics that are:
(1) different in design

(2) geometric and nongeometric

(3) round and straight

(4) singular and compositional

(5) broken and unbroken

(6) within and outside a given frame

(7) placed irregularly on the space provided, and

(8) incomplete (p.79)

(See Appendix B)

The actual test, which relies on the presentation of 'basic stimuli' in the form of figural elements or "fragments', were "intentionally designed in an incomplete and irregular fashion in order to achieve maximum flexibility as an imperative for creativity. Instead of concepts, symbols, or holistic figures, we decided to use figural fragments which possessed only vague conventional meanings" (in Cropley, 1986, p. 166). This rationale reveals two basic beliefs about this test of figural ability specifically, and the notion of creativity in general which is adopted by these researchers:

    1. creativity will blossom and will somehow be released in an environment without guidelines or strictures
    2. no theoretical basis is necessary for the choice of the figural fragments, other than a vague, gestalt kind of suggestive incompleteness.

The use of visual stimulus material as a spur or incentive to supposed creative behaviour was expounded by Wallach and Kogan (1965) in their Patterns Meaning Procedure which was a part of their own range of instruments for assessing creativity. In the assessment of this instrument they relied on two criteria - fluency and originality - as the variables most related to creativity. This instrument purports to measure both verbal and figural creativity by using both verbal and visual stimulus materials. In the verbal stimulus part of the instrument, students are required to respond to three categories of questions:

1. Instances:

name all of the round things you can think of
name all of the things you can think of that will make a noise
name all of the square things you can think of

2. Alternate Uses:

tell me all the different ways you could use a newspaper
tell me all the different ways you could use a knife
tell me all the different ways you could use a cork

3. Similarities:

tell me all the ways in which a carrot and a potato are alike
tell me all the ways in which a cat and a mouse are alike
tell me all the ways in which a desk and a table are alike

The two aspects of the instrument using visual stimulus materials were divided into the following two sections:

Pattern Meanings:

tell me all the things you think this could be

The subjects are given the following patterns on separate cards.

The second section utilising visual stimulus is Line Meanings:

tell me all the things you can about it

For Item 1, "a squished piece of paper" is a unique response, while "mountains" is not. In Item 3, "squeezing paint out of a tube" is unique, while "a piece of string" is not. (Wallach & Kogan, 1965, p. 35-36)

As with the verbal stimulus material, the variables of uniqueness and number of responses were scored for each of the items. Discussion: Wallach & Kogan's instrument -

- abstract designs? Is this claim true?
- both verbal and visual gestalt-kind of incompleteness

- reliance on the judgment of the scorer to determine level of originality

This view of creativity relies on an "associational conception" (Wallach & Kogan, 1965, p. 64) [a form of selective encoding??] of figural or visual stimulus. The general conclusion here is that "creativity ... the ability to generate many cognitive associates and many that are unique, is strikingly independent of the conventional realm of general intelligence, while at the same time being a unitary and pervasive dimension of individual difference in its own right ... we can assert with confidence ... that the ability of a child to display creativity as we here conceive of it, has little to do with ... high scores on measures of general intelligence' (1965, p-65).

Getzels & Jackson’s (1963) study, which also concluded that IQ did not correlate significantly with their measurement of creativity, relied on the following five criteria in their assessment of the latter trait:

Word Association:
The subject was asked to give as many definitions as possible to stimulus words such as bolt, bark, and sack. Getzels & Jackson claimed that the stimulus words were "common' usage words.

Use for Things:
The subject was required to give as many uses as possible for objects that customarily have a stereotyped function attached to them, e.g. a brick, or a paper-clip.

Hidden Shapes:
The subject was required to find a given geometric form that was hidden in more complex geometric forms or patterns. This is the only one of the five measures which relied on visual or figural stimulus and response.

The subject was given four fables in which the last lines were missing. Subject was required to compose three different endings for each fable: moralistic, humourous, and sad.

Make-Up Problems:
The subject was presented with four complex paragraphs each of which contained a number of numerical statements, e.g., the costs involved in building a house. The subject was required to to make up as many mathematical problems as possible that might be solved with the information given.
(Getzels & Jackson, in Taylor & Barron, 1963 163-164)

To summarise the argument to date, it is proposed that current instruments designed to assess creativity and figural ability are inadequate in that they rely on the subjective scoring (by a supposedly trained or expert scorer) of students' responses to figural stimuli. Students with art training are at an advantage. Students under the age of 6 (preconventional) and past the age of postconvention (i.e. after actual knowledge/training intervention) (Benjafield, 1992, p.307) are also at a distinct advantage within these assessments.

Background to the study:

Fifteen primary schools in metropolitan Adelaide were selected according to their geographic and SES location, with three schools from each of the five districts: north, west, south, east and central. All schools selected were Government schools and they included four of the State SHIP (Students with High Intellectual Potential) Focus Schools: one each from north, south, east and west. Each school was asked to nominate the five students from the Year Five year group most likely to have the highest intellectual potential. The entire population of 306 students at the Year Five level of schooling were then tested with the Ravens Progressive Matrices, the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (Figural Form A) and the Figures of Sound instrument. Twenty students were then selected by teacher nomination to attend the Turning World Program. Four students each were selected from five schools, each school representing one of the geographic locations. The students attended the University of Adelaide over a period of ten weeks, with special classes being held at the S.A. Art Gallery and the S.A. School of the Future. One year later and at the conclusion of the Turning World program, the twenty students were re-tested with the Ravens Progressive Matrices, the TTCT (Figural Form B) and the Figures of Sound. At the same time the original population was also re- tested with the Ravens Progressive Matrices and the TTCT (Figural Form B).

The data for the whole group reveal a general weak to insignificant correlation between the IQ test and the TTCT. What is evident is the very strong correlation within the TTCT between the scores for fluency and originality. This reinforces the well-known adage (attributed to Edison?): if you want to come up with a good idea, come up with many. The data becomes more interesting on closer analysis. For the purposes of discussion the key points to notice from the data are:

This data is in keeping with the research already cited which reports either no correlation between IQ and creativity or a weak asymptotic relationship which plateaus out at approximately IQ 120 - 125.

Figures of Sound -An instrument designed to explore visual thinking ability and creativity.

Concept and design: Maria McCann
Artwork (after Wassily Kandinsky): Nigel Murray-Harvey


Instructions - In this booklet there are drawings and questions about the drawings. You will be asked to look carefully at each drawing and then answer the question for it. There are no right or wrong answers. You are asked to just respond to each drawing and question and give the response or answer which you think fits best.

I will read through. each question with you and tell you when to take up your pencil and when to turn the pages'.

The designs for this instrument are based largely on the artwork and teachings of Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944).

Question 1.

Here is a rectangle. There is nothing inside the rectangle.
Now imagine that I want you to put a dot inside this rectangle in a place where you think it looks best.
Look at the rectangle and imagine where the dot would look best.
Now take up your pencil and place a dot into the rectangle in a place where you ~ it looks best.
Place only one dot inside the rectangle.

If the central premise of this paper is true - i.e. that creativity is central to our understanding of giftedness - then it is clear that we need reliable methods of identifying it. The Figures of Sound instrument is an attempt to identify the "g" equivalent of creative thinking, specifically avoiding any language base and relying on visual thinking skills. The data is yet to reveal whether ability on the Figures of Sound correlates with IQ. As an instrument it avoids the problems of subjective analysis of the creative "products". More research is needed.


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