Curiosity and creativity are two of the most important skills needed in the 21st century, according to researchers and educators alike. These skills are considered to be crucial for children’s success, as well as in the business world. In fact, the Harvard Business Review devoted an entire issue to the subject of curiosity, while CEOs around the world cited creativity as being essential to the success of future employees.
Studies have shown that curiosity and creativity are closely linked and possibly driven by a common source of uncertainty and information-seeking. This relationship between curiosity and creativity is bidirectional, meaning that curiosity fuels creativity, and creativity fuels curiosity.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Creativity, aimed to examine the relationship between curiosity and creativity in elementary school-aged children (ages 4–10) using both self-report and behavioural measures. The results showed some evidence of an association between curiosity and creativity through self-report measures, with children viewing themselves as both curious and creative. This finding provides some evidence that the connection between curiosity and creativity is not just theoretical, but may actually exist in children just as it does in adults.
However, the results from the behavioural measures were not as clear, with no association found between curiosity and creativity. This may be due to the lack of behavioural studies in this area, as well as the difficulty in defining and measuring both curiosity and creativity, particularly in children.
The limitations of the current study include the small sample size and the need for further development of self-report measures of curiosity and creativity. Additionally, the behavioural measure used in the study had limitations, as over half of the children reached the ceiling of the task, reducing variability in the data.
In future studies, larger data sets will be collected that include multiple self-report and behavioural measures of curiosity and creativity in elementary school-aged children. The researchers also plan to examine how children’s experiences with uncertainty in the classroom impact their curiosity and creativity. By investigating the ways that teachers can promote uncertainty in the classroom, the researchers hope to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between curiosity and creativity, and how to cultivate these important skills in children.
Anna Sergent, a trainee psychoanalytic psychotherapist, explained: “Creativity is a complex and multifaceted concept that can be measured in different ways. One common method is through divergent thinking tests, which require participants to generate a large number of original ideas within a specified time frame. The main factors measured in this type of test are fluency, originality, and flexibility. Another method of measuring creativity involves self-reports of creative achievements in areas such as art, writing, science, and the like.
“Despite these different methods of measurement, the relationship between dopamine levels and creativity is still not well understood. Some evidence suggests that certain levels of dopamine may have an impact on creativity, but the direction of this relationship is not yet clear. Additionally, dopamine levels can affect both creativity and mental health, with low levels potentially leading to depression and high levels to schizophrenia.”
Asked how to improve creativity, Anna suggested: “If you are looking to increase your creativity, there are several tips that can be helpful. Firstly, try to relax and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Creativity often flourishes when you are less rigid in your thinking. Secondly, surrounding yourself with creative people can help stimulate your own creativity. Thirdly, it is important to try new experiences and challenge yourself to think differently. This can be as simple as changing your routine or brainstorming with others. Finally, try to avoid judgmental thinking and embrace all ideas, no matter how absurd they may seem. With these tips, you can increase your chances of unlocking your full creative potential.”
The results of the study provide some evidence of a connection between curiosity and creativity in elementary school-aged children through self-report measures. However, more research is needed, particularly using behavioural measures, to establish the relationship between the two constructs. The importance of cultivating both curiosity and creativity in children cannot be overstated, as they are considered to be vital skills for success in the 21st century.