332 Cue Creativity

Research by Green, Adam. E., Cohen, Michael. S., Kim, Joseph. U., & Gray, Jeremy. R. (2012).

Written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Is creativity a stable personality trait an individual possesses or does it depend on a state of mind?

Psychological researchers sought to identify whether performance on a task requiring creative thinking could be improved when directly attempting to be creative. First, 40 undergraduate students viewed four sets of words and indicated whether or not they found the word pairs to be acceptably similar. Next, word pairings were placed in colored lettering.  Participants were instructed to think more creatively when seeing word pairs in green writing versus purple writing when deciding whether the words were similar or not.

Researchers found that when they asked participants to think creatively, they were more likely to label highly creative word pairs correctly and did not identify false comparisons as valid. These results indicate that people are better able to reason with higher level thinking as well as enhance their performance when instructed to think more creatively.

Although this study does not cover all aspects of creativity, findings can be usefully applied in education and learning. Challenge students to use their creative mind to assist in developing their abilities to learn new concepts.  And remind yourself to be creative!


Green, A. E., Cohen, M. S., Kim, J. U., & Gray, J. R. (2012). An explicit cue improves creative analogical reasoning. Intelligence40, 598-603.

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