Do we get more creative with more intelligence? How do intelligence and creative ability interact?
Dean Keith Simonton, PhD thinks “Intelligence is purely a cognitive construct. Creativity on the other hand, I see as being much more complex.”
Like other writers on creativity, he makes a distinction between “little c creativity” and “big C creativity.”
He says creativity in everyday life, solving everyday problems, or “little c creativity,” “is very closely related to intelligence because intelligence includes, as part of it, problem-solving abilities.
But, he adds, “when you are talking about ‘big C creativity,’ you’re talking about being able to generate new ideas, generate some kind of product that’s going to have some kind of impression on other people…a poem, a patent, a short story, a journal article or whatever.
“But it’s something that is a concrete, discrete product that is original and serves some kind of adaptive function.
“And that kind of creativity, that big c creativity, involves a whole bunch of other characteristics besides intelligence.”
From his article On creativity and intelligence.
Dean Keith Simonton, PhD is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis. His expertise includes genius, creativity, leadership, and aesthetics – the cognitive, personal, developmental, social, and cultural factors behind eminence, giftedness, and talent in science, philosophy, literature, music, art, cinema, and politics.
One of his books: Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity.
Smart yet naive
In his article The Creative Personality: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that “Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility” and also that “Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.”
He says that “a core of general intelligence is high among people who make important creative contributions,” but according to the studies of Lewis Terman, “after a certain point IQ does not seem to be correlated with superior performance in real life” – including level of creativity.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high) is author of a number of books including Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.
Evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber notes “some of the most creative people in the world are not all that bright in terms of being capable of scoring high on IQ tests. High Iq may be necessary for creativity but it is not sufficient.”
One example he gives is Mozart, who “had a lifelong fondness for garish costumes and the grossest of bathroom humor. In the movie Amadeus, he was depicted as giddy and immature. His defenders refuse to admit that the one of the most accomplished composers who ever lived could have had a trivial intellect.
“But people with Williams syndrome may have incredible musical facility and still be intellectually incapable of tying their shoes.”
Another famous creator Vincent Van Gogh “was considered dumb as a post by those who knew him. His neighbors even took to calling him The Caveman.”
From article Giftedness Doesn’t Guarantee Creative Achievement, by Nigel Barber, PhD.
Professor Jonathan Wai, Professor, a psychologist, and research scientist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program, writes, “We know that intelligence is likely important for any field of creativity that requires a cognitive component or problem solving, but is it also important for areas in the arts?”
He notes that author Howard Gardner “once noted that he thought the individuals profiled in his excellent book Creating Minds (which included people from the arts) likely all had to have an IQ of at least 120 which indicates they were at least in the top 10% of ability.”
From article Steve Jobs Leveraged His Intelligence to More Effectively Create, by Jonathan Wai.
In another article, Wai refers to research by Emily Nusbaum and Paul Silvia at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, which asks the question, “Are intelligence and creativity really so different?”
Wai says, “The authors point out that all of the major creativity textbooks contend that intelligence and creativity are essentially unrelated abilities. However, Nusbaum and Silvia conclude based on their studies that ‘fluid and executive cognition is in fact central to creative thought.’
“Certainly there are facets of creativity that are different from intelligence and I am not saying creativity and intelligence are synonymous.
“Yet I think what these studies suggest is that there is probably more overlap between intelligence and creativity than we realize.”
He gives an example of a highly intelligent creator: Stefani Germanotta was identified as gifted in adolescence. We know her now as Lady Gaga.
From his article If You Are Creative, Are You Also Intelligent?
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Related Creative Mind article: Boosted Cognition and Enhanced Creativity
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Last reviewed: 19 Jan 2012