The Wallach-Kogan Creativity Test
We are familiar with the concept of psychometric tests and assessments to quantitatively measure psychological phenomena. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test, Weschler’s Adult Intelligence Scale, Thematic Apperception Test, and Big Five Personality Test are some of the commonly known psychology tests. Let’s look into another psychometric assessment tool that attempts to quantify a person’s creative abilities – the Wallach-Kogan Creativity Test.
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What is Creativity?
As laypeople, we associate creativity with highly accomplished artists, musicians, fashion designers, filmmakers, scientists and inventors, and other individuals in such fields. However, as per psychology, even regular people can be highly creative, even in mundane life. The American Psychological Association defines creativity as “the ability to produce or develop original work, theories, techniques, or thoughts.” Some traits associated with creative individuals are originality, imagination, and expressiveness. Creative thinking refers to the mental processes that lead to a new invention or solution to a problem.
How did the concept of creativity emerge in the discipline of psychology?
The psychologist J.P. Guilford is credited for carrying out extensive research in the field of human intelligence and creativity as psychological phenomena and proposing methods to measure creative thinking in individuals. Before Guilford’s work, the prominent understanding of intelligence was as a unitary concept. He rejected the views of psychologist Charles Spearman that intelligence could be characterised by a single numerical parameter. Guilford was one of the first proponents of the idea of multiple aspects of intelligence. He argued that intelligence consists of numerous intellectual abilities, and proposed a model with as many as 180 operating factors of intelligence.
Guilford believed that creativity was an important component of thinking. He was the first to introduce the concept of divergent thinking. According to him, divergent thinking is a thought process commonly exhibited by creative people. It occurs in a free-flowing, spontaneous, and non-linear manner, wherein many ideas and solutions are generated in a short duration of time. Guilford also developed a test to measure divergent thinking abilities, known as the ‘Alternative Uses Test’. It asks participants to come up with as many as possible uses for a simple object, like a brick or a paperclip. The test developed by him measured four parts of divergent thinking, described below:
- Fluency: This refers to the ability to produce a great number of ideas or solutions to a problem within the stipulated time.
- Flexibility: This refers to the ability to produce a variety of ideas and solutions to a specific problem.
- Originality: It refers to the ability to come up with novel and unusual ideas and solutions.
- Elaboration: It refers to the ability to describe in detail and systematise and organise the ideas.
Since the work of Guilford, research on creativity has progressed and multiple creativity tests have been developed by psychologists, including the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), The Creativity Behavior Inventory, and the Creative Attitude Survey (Schaeffer). One such test is the Wallach-Kogan Creativity Test. Let’s delve deeper into how this text functions.
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The Wallach-Kogan Creativity Test (WKCT)
The Wallach-Kogan creativity test was first described in the book “The Modes of thinking in young children: a study of the creativity-intelligence distinction”, by Michael Wallach and Nathan Kogan. It is one of the widely used instruments used to measure creativity. WKCT is based on the psychologist Sarnoff Mednick’s concept of creativity. Mednick defined creativity as – “the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specific requirements or are useful in other ways”. Thus, the test was designed to test the number of associations that a person can generate under various circumstances. The strongest appeal and reason for the WKCT is its game-sense approach to testing creativity.
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The associative model of creativity assumes that when a person is presented with a stimulus, they would be able to generate common and stereotypical responses at the beginning, but the more unique and creative responses would only emerge a little later on during the test. Thus, the creators realised that if there was insufficient time given to the participants, they would not be able to come up with unique associations. Also, observing highly creative individuals, the authors realised that creativity is maximised when individuals are in a relaxed atmosphere. Therefore, the Wallach-Kogan Test is conducted in a game-like atmosphere with no time pressure, instead of in an examination or test setting.
WKCT is a battery of tests, which includes five different tests. It was specifically designed to be used with children to assess both verbal and visual content. It is thus designed in a manner that is easy to administer in a school setting. The first three tests are verbal, and the latter two are visual. They are briefly described below:
- The Instances Test: This subtest requires a child to generate as many instances of a class concept as they can. Some examples of the questions posed to the children are –
“Name all the round things you can think of”, and “Name things with wheels”.
- The Alternative Uses Test: Much like Guilford’s test, this test requires the children to generate possible uses for commonplace objects, such as a cup or newspaper.
- The Similarities Test: In this test, children are required to come up with similarities between two seemingly dissimilar objects, such as a potato and a carrot.
- Line Meanings Test: This is the first Visual Contents Task in the battery. In this, children are shown different kinds of lines. Then they are asked to generate meanings or give interpretations that are relevant to the form of the line shown.
- Pattern Meanings Test: This is the second Visual Contents Task. It is similar to the previous test. In this, children are shown patterns and required to interpret them.
The scoring for the test is done on four parameters, which are similar to the ones used by Guilford. The higher the score, the higher the child’s ability of creative thinking. The four components are:
- Fluency: The total number of responses that a child gives for each task is calculated as his/her score for the fluency parameter.
- Uniqueness/Originality: If the WKCT battery is administered in a class, then each response by a child is compared to all other children. If a response is only given by 5% of the children, it is deemed unusual, and given 1 point. If the response is only given by 1% of the children, it is deemed unique, and given 2 points.
- Flexibility: The flexibility of responses is calculated by the number of categories they include. For example, if a child gives three responses to the question “name things with wheels” – a car, a bicycle, and your mind, they would be scored 2 on this parameter. This is because the first two belong to the same category of modes of transportation, but the third is a different category – of metaphors.
- Elaboration: Same as Guilford’s description, elaboration is measured by assessing the amount of detail of an answer given by a child.
Although the WKCT is easy to administer and requires no specific training, the accurate scoring of parameters such as elaboration can be challenging. Wallach-Kogan Creativity test has also been criticised by some scholars because it only focuses on the variety and number of responses, and does not measure their quality.
The WKCT is a creativity test that has clear benefits. It is easy to administer, comprehensive and can help teachers identify creative students. However, most scholars warn that the results of any such test are simply a sample of behaviour under certain circumstances, and that behaviour might not be exhibited by children in other circumstances. Alternative approaches have been suggested by researchers. Crockenberg advises educators to encourage creativity in all children rather than identifying it in some. She suggests that research should be focused on instilling creative thinking in all individuals rather than just measuring it in those who already think creatively.
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