Test Your Creative Potential


Why are some people more creative (able to think of new and original ideas) than others?

Psychologists have sought (looked for) an answer to this question for many years, with some interesting hypotheses (guesses; theories).

Dean Keith Simonton at the University of California, Davis, is well known in the world of (field of; area of) psychology as the leading (one of the top or best) researchers in this area. Simonton has identified several factors (influences; items) that may influence creativity.

Here are some of those, categorized (classified) by whether they help or hinder (hurt) creativity. See which ones apply to you!

Help: Being born last in the family. Younger members of the family will get to see different kinds of role models (people whose actions and ideas you may want to imitate).

They are exposed to (experience) family conflicts and how they are resolved. These experiences can fuel (increase) original thinking.

Hurt: Being born first in the family. First-born children are more likely to think in conventional ways (traditional or commonly accepted ways).

Help: Taking time off. Taking a break from your work allows your ideas to incubate (develop slowly without interruptions) and gives original ideas a chance to grow.

Hurt: Resistance to change. People who don’t want to change are almost by definition (by that very fact) people who cannot be very creative, since being creative means doing something original and that hasn’t been done before.

Interestingly enough, Simonton found that those who too easily give up on an idea are also less creative. Sometimes we need to continue with an idea even though some of our ideas fail.

Help: Freedom to take risks. It’s hard to be creative if your boss won’t ever let you do anything different. Being able to work on a variety of (mixture of; different) things can help you think in different ways, and thereby (because of that fact) be more creative.

Hurt: Pressure to play it safe. To play it safe means to never take any risks, to always do things that have no possible danger involved. Again, almost by definition, this is something that will make you a less creative person, since creativity means sometimes doing things that might fail or even hurt your chances in the future.

Here’s how I did on this “test.”

  • I’m the youngest of my family, so that is a help.
  • I take frequent breaks from work – so many, my wife doesn’t think I’m actually working at all!
  • I probably “play it safe” on many things, so that hurts me.

How did you do?


P.S. Today’s post was originally a Culture Note from our Daily English #141 lesson. If you want to learn more about American culture and improve your English at the same time, check out our Unlimited English Membership here.

Here are some more lessons that are about creativity or explain the use of that word:

Daily English 312 – Different Work Styles

Daily English 1300 – Diversifying a Workplace

Cultural English 346

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