23 March 2017, late...
The answer to "Am I Creative?" is best determined by whether you have produced things which qualify as creative works, according to the Creative Realism concept discussed in an earlier posting. However, just because you haven't produced any creative works doesn't rule out the possibility that you have as yet unrealized creative potential. Determining whether you have this untapped potential is the job of an army of creativity tests which approach the question from a host of different angles.
The next question is, "Which of these tests is accurate?" The answer is a complex one. First, some have been devised by researchers in cognitive psychology who are attempting to unravel the secrets of how our brain creates. Others are devised by people who have no credentials of any kind but consider themselves creative enough to be expert on the subject. Which do you think is likely to produce better results?
One test of creative potential used by researchers is known as The Unusual Uses Test.
In this test, you are presented with a common object such as a brick or a shoelace. You are then asked to list as many unusual uses for this object as you can in a limited period of time. Trained evaluators examine the results for quantity and quality of results.
So if you're a MacGyver, if you find yourself improvising problem solutions and using things in ways never intended by the inventor, congratulations, you will probably do well on The Unusual Uses Test. As far as this test is concerned, you have creative potential. Furthermore, you are demonstrably able to overcome a common barrier to creativity known as Functional Fixation.
Functional fixation is what prevents us from seeing past ordinary uses for an object to get to the unusual uses which lead to creative results.
Another test used by researchers to evaluate creative potential is the ALF Test.
In this test, you are asked to imagine what an Alien Life Form from a planet completely unlike Earth would look like. Then, you are asked to sketch this life form, label and explain parts, and generally explain how this life form lives on its planet. The more unlike Earth life forms your ALF is, the higher your score. You lose lots of points for anthropomorphic ALFs, which we see all the time in science fiction movies. But you also lose points for more subtle things like bi-lateral symmetry, obvious sensory organs, a distinct head-torso division, and an even number of limbs.
When I used this test in my PhD research, I saw some interesting but generally low-scoring results. We just don't think about life being truly different from what we are exposed to in your daily lives. Such responses are considered to be evidence of Structured Imagination, or the inability to conceive of solutions which are radically different from existing solutions to the problem. The worst case of structured imagination I ever saw in my research was a young man who simply responded to the test with, "I don't believe in life on other planets." He was totally unable to set aside his beliefs and imagine something different from his day to day experience.
So, there you have it. Two commonly used creativity tests used in creative cognition research. There are others and, perhaps, we'll take a look at some of them later on. For now, make of these what you will. Each grapples with only one aspect of creativity and is only as reliable as it's interpretation.
Deborah K Smith, PhD
As a self-proclaimed mixed media artist and creative professional, I am in my 3rd career, having spent 15 years as a software developer and another 15 as a university professor. My first love and my most demanding one has always been creating whether it be a drawing, a bit of crocheted lace, a cloth doll, a piece of software, a PhD dissertation, or a piece of digital art. I simply LOVE to make things and I see make and make-over opportunities everywhere. My only regret is that there is no possible way that I can live long enough to make all of the things I see in my mind.