Enhance Creativity in Australia

Left brain vs Right brain and Creativity

Posted on: October 16, 2012

There is little evidence about left brain vs right brain and creativity. Theories of  left-brain/right brain learning theories are not based on credible science and most certainly unhelpful in understanding creativity when used to categorise individuals. But have you ever heard of convergent thinking and divergent thinking?

Psychologist J.P. Guilford first invented the terms convergent thinking and divergent thinking‘ back in 1967.

Convergent thinking is the ability to the ability to apply rules to arrive at a single ‘correct’ solution to a problem such as the answer to an IQ test problem. This process is systematic and linear.

Divergent thinking (or sometimes ‘lateral thinking’) is the process of generating multiple related ideas for a given topic or solutions to a problem. Divergent thinking occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, ‘non-linear’ manner.

There is good evidence that divergent thinking is what creative problem solving depends on!

Traditionally creativity has been understood in terms of the accessibility of concepts in our long term memory systems so divergent thinking tasks have been widely used. Concepts are connected in our brains in ‘semantic networks’.

Here is an example of a semantic network, with each concept ‘node’ of the network accessible from the concept ‘street’ via other node:

Individual differences in creativity are due to differences in whether these kinds of associative networks were ‘steep’ or ‘flat’, psychologists have proposed.

Those with ‘flat’ networks have numerous and loose conceptual connections, enabling them to be more creative.

Those with ‘steep’ networks tend to have more logical, linear associations between nodes.

Below is an image of someone with a flat network which quickly and creatively hops – node to node – from peacock to Rolls Royce. Something someone ‘linear’ in their thinking would struggle with.


Mark A. Smith Ph.D, Creativity and IQ


3 Responses to "Left brain vs Right brain and Creativity"

Really interesting information. When I looked at the semantic network I was floored because when I try to explain to people how I think about things, how I see a thought or idea, how I process a new piece of information, this is precisely how I describe my experience. I even draw the diagram in the air when I’m talking about it. I LOVE your blog.

Amazing! I’m glad this helped you in understanding the creative process and thank you very much!

This is a great blog! I think that you have covered this cause extremely well and in an interesting matter. I am working as part of a campaign which aims to promote the affordances and benefits of technology on education and cognitive development. I believe that technology is a primary platform for enhanced creativity. In traditional school there is a tendency to focus on perfect grades as a pose to supporting students creativity. I think that creativity is key to cognitive learning and that it needs to be developed as an important life skill. With regards to the current education system I believe that there are some changes which could be made to further promote students creativity. For instance online 2.0 platforms such as social networking sites can be used productively for learning and teaching purposes. They could provide new opportunities for education as they enhance students learning capabilities by promoting innovation, collaboration and creativity. For example the creation of E-portfolios. What do you think about the link between creativity and technology? Does technology strengthen creative or doesn’t? – AR

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Enhance Creativity in Australia

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