Being creative seems to be the passion of the young. How creativity really relates to age, though, may be surprising to many.
Unfasten Your Seatbelts and Resist The Creative Decline
Creativity begins for many people to decline at a young age.At about five years old, most people use more of their creative potential than will ever be used later in life. Innovation is a daily process, and something that is taken for granted. By the age of twelve creativity will decrease to a fraction of its original level.
The reason for this, as some may suspect, is a desire to conform. During the process of schooling, most children become aware that conforming to certain rules is necessary for acceptance. Creativity is abandoned in favour of following rules, and the unpredictability that often accompanies creative thought is generally abandoned in favour or living in lock-step with one’s peers.
Rage Against the Engine of Conformity
Society itself is a major engine of conformity. Children approach problems in multiple ways, yet are rewarded by following a specific brand of thinking by their elders and peers.
We are taught not to question authority, to follow orthodox patterns of thinking and to always defer to the thoughts of others. For most people this pattern continues from early childhood years all the way through the university level.
Diversity of thinking will be limited. Mental wings clipped instead of encouraged to take flight.
Too Careful to be Creative
Many adults fall into the trap of abandoning a new idea for something that is tried and true, a process called habitual ossification. All of the little traps of adult life tend to work against being more creative. Adults defends their positions instead of learning. They ease into roles in their life, and in their work, that requires repetition and they find themselves making excuses for why they no longer creates.
Frank Goble writes in “The Third Force: The Psychology of Abraham Maslow“:
Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they [creative people] are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless.
The creative person is flexible – he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.
In the Clever vs. Creativity Goldilocks Zone
Science notes that intelligence plays a role. “Smarter” people tend to be more creative, though those with ultra high IQs tend to experience a rather steep creative drop. Individuals need a way to explore new paths to stay creative, something that the dim and extremely bright both have a hard time doing.
Here is a tip: to stay creative, put some variety in your life. Read new things. Go on trips. Make new neural pathways. Science tells us that those pathways change rapidly, so make sure that you make the changes that you want to see. Your creativity is within in your control, but you have to remember to exercise it as well as you would any other muscle.
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Scientific Sources Used for This Article
What is the common thread of creativity? Its dialectical relation to intelligence and wisdom.
By: Sternberg, Robert J.
Creativity refers to the potential to produce novel ideas that are task-appropriate and high in quality. Creativity in a societal context is best understood in terms of a dialectical relation to intelligence and wisdom. In particular, intelligence forms the thesis of such a dialectic. Intelligence largely is used to advance existing societal agendas. Wisdom forms the synthesis of the dialectic, balancing the old with the new. Wise people recognize the need to balance intelligence with creativity to achieve both stability and change within a societal context.
Read more at American Psychological Association
Why are modern scientists so dull? How science selects for perseverance and sociability at the expense of intelligence and creativity
The progressive lengthening of scientific training and the reduced independence of career scientists have tended to deter vocational ‘revolutionary’ scientists in favour of industrious and socially adept individuals better suited to incremental ‘normal’ science. High general intelligence (IQ) is required for revolutionary science… Elite revolutionary science should therefore be a place that welcomes brilliant, impulsive, inspired, antisocial oddballs – so long as they are also dedicated truth-seekers.
Read more at ScienceDirect
The relationship between intelligence and creativity: New support for the threshold hypothesis by means of empirical breakpoint detection
One of the most prominent notions concerning the interplay between intelligence and creativity is the threshold hypothesis, which assumes that above-average intelligence represents a necessary condition for high-level creativity… In addition, we obtained evidence that once the intelligence threshold is met, personality factors become more predictive for creativity. On the contrary, no threshold was found for creative achievement, i.e. creative achievement benefits from higher intelligence even at fairly high levels of intellectual ability.
The Road to Creative Achievement: A Latent Variable Model of Ability and Personality Predictors
This study investigated the significance of different well-established psychometric indicators of creativity for real-life creative outcomes. We tested the effects of creative potential, intelligence, and openness to experiences on everyday creative activities and actual creative achievement… We found openness to experiences and two independent indicators of creative potential, ideational originality and ideational fluency, to predict everyday creative activities. Moreover, intelligence moderated the effect of creative activities on creative achievement, suggesting that intelligence may play an important role in transforming creative activities into publically acknowledged creative achievements.
Read more at PubMed