Friday, November 9, 2012

Can you learn creativity? Yes, says researches at Tel Aviv University

One of a series of photos shown to the schoolchildren.
(Photo courtesy of Prof. Nira Liberman)

‘Expansive thinking’ primes young minds to think creatively, according to an Israeli university study on children.

Kids can actually be taught to think creatively, according to a study by researchers at Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences. The key concept is "expansive" thought, where children are encouraged to think about distant objects and perspectives instead of those in their immediate surroundings.

It’s not hard to get kids thinking in this way, says Prof. Nira Liberman, who supervised the study of 55 children aged six to nine from Ra’anana and Ramat Hasharon.

Her psychology students Maayan Blumenfeld, Boaz Hameiri and Orli Polack showed half of the subjects a series of photographs that started with nearby objects and gradually progressed to more distant ones — from a close-up of the pencil sitting on their school desk progressing to a picture of the Milky Way galaxy. The other half was shown exactly the same photographs but in reverse order.

After looking at the photographs, both groups of children completed an abbreviated version of the Tel Aviv Creativity Test (TACT), in which they were given an object and asked to describe different possible uses for it. Points are given for the number of uses mentioned and the creativity of the use.

The children who viewed the series of photos from close to far away, the “expansive thinking group,” scored significantly better on all of the creativity measures, coming up with a greater number of uses and more creative uses for the objects. -- By Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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