Revisiting Mednick's Model on Creativity-Related Differences in Associative Hierarchies. Evidence for a Common Path to Uncommon Thought.
Bottom Line: We found that associative hierarchies do not differ between low and high creative people, but creative people showed higher associative fluency and more uncommon responses.This suggests that creativity may not be related to a special organization of associative memory, but rather to a more effective way of accessing its contents.The findings add to the evidence associating creativity with highly adaptive executive functioning.
Affiliation: University of Graz, Austria.
Fifty years ago, Mednick [Psychological Review, 69 (1962) 220] proposed an elaborate model that aimed to explain how creative ideas are generated and why creative people are more likely to have creative ideas. The model assumes that creative people have flatter associative hierarchies and as a consequence can more fluently retrieve remote associative elements, which can be combined to form creative ideas. This study aimed at revisiting Mednick's model and providing an extensive test of its hypotheses. A continuous free association task was employed and association performance was compared between groups high and low in creativity, as defined by divergent thinking ability and self-report measures. We found that associative hierarchies do not differ between low and high creative people, but creative people showed higher associative fluency and more uncommon responses. This suggests that creativity may not be related to a special organization of associative memory, but rather to a more effective way of accessing its contents. The findings add to the evidence associating creativity with highly adaptive executive functioning.
No MeSH data available.
Mentions: Fifty years ago, Mednick (1962) put forward an elaborate theoretical model in which he outlined the presumed relationship of associative behavior and creativity. Mednick defined the process of creative thinking as “the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specific requirements or are in some way useful. The more mutually remote the elements of the new combination, the more creative the process or solution” (1962, p. 221). On the basis of this definition, he assumed that creative individuals show higher ability to access mutually remote associative elements, which then can be combined to form creative solutions. More specifically, Mednick proposed that creative people are characterized by flatter associative hierarchies as compared to less creative people who are characterized by steeper associative hierarchies (see Figure 1). Associative hierarchies refer to the idea that for any given concept there is a set of associations which can be arranged in the order of their associative strength. A person with steep associative hierarchies hence would have a couple of stereotypical associations with very high association strength, while for further associations the association strength and hence the probability of retrieval would be much lower (e.g., a person with steep associative hierarchies being presented the concept “table” might be restricted to overly dominant responses such as “chair”; see Figure 1). In contrast, a person with a flat associative hierarchy would show a less skewed distribution of association strengths with more subtle differences between different associations (e.g., a person with flat associative hierarchies being presented the concept “table” is more likely to retrieve more remote association responses such as “leg” or “food”; see Figure 1). This conceptual framework led him to the development of the Remote Associates Test (RAT; Mednick, 1968). In this test, participants are presented three unrelated words (e.g., “rat—blue—cottage”) and they have to find a forth word (e.g., “cheese”) which serves as an associative link for the stimulus words.
No MeSH data available.