Sunday, February 26, 2012

Again with the love/hate relationship with Creativity

Many (Most?) people claim to want creativity but turn out to be afraid or uncomfortable around examples of it.  Elsewhere on this blog, I have referred to studies of teachers making these contradictory claims.

Now, Scientific American discusses the subject.  Excerpts: may find yourself trained to stop your creative thoughts before they are fully formed, lest you get in trouble for voicing something that is “wrong.” And before long, you may form a bias against creativity in all its forms—even though you will likely remain unaware of your negative views (after all, don’t we live in a society that values creative thought?).
The IAT (Implicit Association Test) is a tool that searches for unconscious bias.  I first heard of it in a Malcolm Gladwell book and it works with your reaction speed.  You are given a list of words and if the word is positive you are to click on one button and if it is negative, click on another button.  The two buttons might be labelled "White" or Caucasian, or "Black" or "Negro".  Many people, even those who appear, and want to be, xenophilic will show slower reaction times connecting "black" with positive terms.  The same test could compare "Male" and "Female" or "Creative" and "Practical"

In a series of studies, participants had to complete the same good-bad category pairing as in the standard IAT, only this time, with two words that expressed an attitude that was either practical (such as functionalconstructive, or useful) or creative (novel, inventive, original, etc.). The result: even those people who had explicitly ranked creativity as high on their list of positive attributes showed an implicit bias against it relative to practicality under conditions of uncertainty.
The article ends with a quote:
As Albert Einstein put it, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” 

There is a link to the actual research and more at the Scientific American website.  I feel I have to mention this as I have quoted a great deal from the article and I want to be sure the site gets visited.  It can't be plagiarism if my quotes increase site traffic, can it?  Seriously, the comments also have some meat to them.

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