In our study, we assessed creativity using three different tasks: the Creative Storytelling Task (CST), the Alternative Uses Task (AUT), and the Verb Generation Task (VGT). We used three different tasks to ensure that we could assess multiple facets of creative ability, such as creative writing ability (via the CST), divergent thinking (via the AUT), and more (via the VGT).
For the CST, participants were asked to write a creative story using the word “tree.” The CST mainly assesses the ability to make combinations of concepts that form a meaningful and creative product. One participant wrote a story about a CIA agent arriving on an island called “Sycamore Island,” accessible only via a raft of “PVC and pistachio shells glued together.”
For the AUT, participants were asked to list all the creative, alternative uses you can think of for a tree. The CST measures divergent thinking abilities, assessing the ability to broaden one’s representational search space to produce a wide range of responses to a query. Some example responses included, “back scratcher” and “toothpick for giants.”
For the VGT, participants were instructed to respond creatively with the first verb that came to mind for each word in a list of 31 nouns (most of which were related to the word “tree”). The VGT assesses several cognitive processes, such as broad associative thinking, ability to shift between different conceptual categories, and ability to generate novel responses. Some example responses to the noun “tree” included “climbing,” “blooming,” and “providing.”
All of the participants’ creativity task responses were scored by three human raters, who were unaware of the experimental paradigms assigned to the participants. To score each task, the human raters were all given a training on assessment of creativity.
Finally, we used scores from all three creativity tasks to generate a composite “Creativity Index'' for each participant. This composite score encapsulates multiple facets of each participant’s creative abilities. We focused our analysis on the Creativity Index, but all of the scores from each of the individual creativity tasks were also analyzed in our study.