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Creativity & Aging: Definition & Changes with Age

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  • 0:02 Creativity
  • 1:18 Measures of Creativity
  • 3:30 Features of Creativity
  • 4:58 Creativity & Aging
  • 6:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

In this lesson we will explore what creativity is, how one can go about measuring it and what leads to one being creative. In addition, we'll look at how creativity changes with age.

Creativity

I like to think of myself as a creative person. I like imagining what could have been, what might be or how things could have gone differently. When I read books, I wonder what I would have done in the same situation. Also, the dungeons and dragons stuff, too. Yeah, I'm a nerd, but I'm a creative nerd!

Creativity is an ability to think of new ideas or make new things. I need to make sure that this is not confused with productivity, which is an ability to think of additional ideas or make more of something. These are very similar but strikingly different. Creativity is making something that has never been made before or connecting things in a new or novel way. Productivity can include some creative elements or changing some things about, but creativity doesn't necessarily mean productivity. Looking at you, artistic people!

As we age and change throughout our life, the things we focus on in life change as well. Things we were passionate about in our youth we don't care about now. Things will be forgotten in the future. As we age, changes also occur to our creativity, things beyond focus and effort.

Measures of Creativity

Before knowing how something changes over a lifetime, we need to be able to measure it. Makes a certain kind of sense, wouldn't you agree?

However, unlike measuring abilities or intelligence, creativity is literally measuring what has not been thought before. What does that mean? Let me explain this in a more video gamey kind of way. Let's say your character is learning how to do something, like shoot a gun or do math. As you do more of it, you accrue more experience and abilities. We can compare your skills to what is possible and known. Measuring creativity is measuring what is unknown, what has not been done before. It is measuring the unknowable.

When assessing for creativity, a set system is basically impossible to have. You cannot measure someone's creativity based on hard and fast measures. It's not a skill, like math. But it is possible to measure it by a more subjective, or qualitative, approach. Some questions of measuring creativity include:

  • First, is there a physical product to measure? I can't measure how creative your thinking is unless I have it on a paper or have something to look at. I will be saying product as a short hand, but it could be anything from an actual object to a theoretical formula.

  • Next, is the product new, original or unexpected? This may require some serious thought and examination of what is already out there.

  • Is the new product effective? Anyone can string together letters or cobble together a wooden thing, but is the product effective at what it does? Is the formula accurate? Does the art piece inspire people?

  • When looking at the final product, did the product require elaboration and reformulation? If a product required extensive changes and constant checking back, then it could be argued that it was not a creative endeavor but one more of productivity.

Now that we have a good idea of how to assess for creativity, let's look at how creativity changes over time.

Features of Creativity

To be creative, you need to have a few things present. First, a creative person needs to have an understanding of their medium. This requires either a lot of experience in doing something, like math or shooting a gun, or an innate understanding of something, like painters and emotion.

Next, a person needs distance or a lack of concern from critics and social constraints. With creativity, you cannot be bound by petty critics or how people have done things in the past. Lastly, a broadened awareness is something that allows a creative person to take in a lot more information from other sources and use distracted ideas to integrate into creative pieces.

We have experience, not caring what others think and awareness of things that others might not perceive. Interestingly enough, the people who have been found to be most creative and to fit these criteria are older individuals. They have more experience and a lifetime of learning behind them. They have been found to care less about what others think of them, as you probably guess when they wear sandals and socks together.

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