Foresight and Creative Achievement

Linda Houser-Marko’s most recent research revolves around one of her favorite topics; namely, the nature of creativity. Researcher-of-genius Dean Keith Simonton once asked “What criteria must be used in judging an idea’s creativity? Who evaluates those criteria in assessing the idea’s creativity?” and opined that there are two types of the latter: “Little-c creativity,” which posits that the evaluator of the actual or potential creative work is the individual creator; and “Big-C Creativity,” which assumes that an evaluation is a consensus among persons other than the creator (colleagues, critics, patent examiners, audiences, etc.). Furthermore, evaluations are themselves based on several factors, three of which are fluency (number of ideas), flexibility (number of categories represented among ideas), and originality (uniqueness of ideas). 

For this study, which was published as a Statistical Bulletin earlier this year, Houser-Marko used Foundation examinees’ scores on the Foresight and Ideaphoria tests to operationalize creative fluency and, by extension, creative potential. No effort was made to judge the creativity of the Foresight and Ideaphoria responses; however, as was noted in an earlier Statistical Bulletin (2016-2), fluency and originality are positively correlated in the Foresight test. A measure of creative achievement, the self-report Creative Achievement Questionnaire (CAQ) provided outcome measures spanning ten domains, viz. architecture, culinary, dance, humor, inventions, music, science, theater, visual arts, and writing.

An age-diverse (M = 30.3 years, range = 20-76) sample of 936 examinees (53% male) recruited from the Foundation’s New York, Los Angeles, D.C., and Seattle labs provided responses on Foresight, Ideaphoria, and the CAQ, as well as on the usual four cognitive group factors, Numerical (N), Spatial (SV), Memory (M), and Speed of Reasoning (SR). Most of the sample (60%) were college graduates. Results showed that creative achievement was heavily skewed right (i.e. more people were at the low end of the scale); that is, CAQ scores ranged from 0 to 83 with a mean of 10.9, and the lower, middle, and upper thirds of the sample earned scores of 0-4, 5-10, and 11-83, respectively. Houser-Marko correlated CAQ overall and subscale scores with fluency and cognitive group scores; she also regressed CAQ overall score on Ideaphoria, Foresight, and the four abilities. 

The correlations indicated that Foresight (r = .26) is more closely related to creative achievement (i.e. total CAQ score) than Ideaphoria (r = .10); notably, both the SV (r = .18) and SR (r = .16) group factors had stronger positive correlations than Ideaphoria with creative achievement. The fact that SR and Foresight were themselves moderately correlated (r = .25) points the way toward a partial explanation, along which the regression was meant to travel further. Nevertheless, SR was not a significant predictor of the CAQ total in the simultaneous regression; only Foresight (b = .248), SV (b = .174), and (unexpectedly) N (b = -.112) enjoyed that distinction. The N group was positively correlated with everything (ability groups, fluency, and overall CAQ), but much less so to the CAQ than anything else. The bottom line here is that it’s possible that the part of Numerical aptitude that’s independent of the other aptitudes is negatively related to creativity.