The Development of Creativity
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While there is evidence of early creativity in children’s colorful drawings, original stories, and elaborate games of pretense, conducting research on the topic of children’s creativity can be challenging. In particular, the most commonly used measures of creativity have been shown to be problematic, particularly with young children. Therefore, an important goal of this dissertation was to develop appropriate laboratory tasks for assessing children’s creativity. At Time 1, 75 4- and 5-year-old children (38 boys, 37 girls) were asked to complete two new measures of creativity – a storytelling task and a drawing task. In addition, the children were interviewed about whether they engaged in elaborated role play (i.e., pretending in which children imagine and act out the part of a character on a regular basis). The results indicated that the laboratory measures of creativity were both related to engaging in elaborated role play as well as related to each other (independent of age and language ability), suggesting that the measures were effective in assessing young children’s creativity, and that they were specifically associated with elaborated role play. Another goal of this dissertation was to examine the continuity of individual differences in creativity from preschool age to middle school age with a longitudinal follow-up assessment of the children from Time 1 approximately eight years later when they were 11 to 14 years old. 41 children (21 boys, 20 girls) participated at Time 2 and completed a large battery of creativity measures, including tasks similar to the laboratory measures at Time 1 as well as additional measures that varied in whether they included social content. Contrary to hypotheses, laboratory measures of creativity at Time 1 did not predict any of the measures of creativity at Time 2. However, the creativity ratings of the role play characters from Time 1 were related to all of the indicators of creativity eight years later. In addition, having an imaginary companion at Time 2 was concurrently related to several measures of creativity. These results suggest that elaborated role play might be particularly relevant for children’s developing creativity. This dissertation includes previously published co-authored material.