A human bias against creativity is hindering science, research claims

by logos50907

http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/111212_creativity.htm

Not the most readable article. Try using Readability (www.readability.com).

or if you couldn’t be bothered below is the actual article copy-pasta’ed.

A human bias against creativity is hindering science, research claims

Dec. 12, 2011
Special to World Science  

Most us us pro­fess to love cre­ativ­ity. But we re­coil when it stares us in the face, ac­cord­ing to a new study that seems to seems lodge a qui­et in­dict­ment against the whole hu­man race.

Jen­ni­fer S. Mueller of the Uni­vers­ity of Penn­syl­va­nia and col­leagues, who con­ducted the work, say their study both demon­strates and helps ex­plain the phe­nom­e­non. The prob­lem that per­haps most in­ter­feres with our rec­og­ni­tion and ap­preci­ation for real-life cre­ativ­ity, they claim, is that cre­ativ­ity usu­al­ly comes with a side dish of un­cer­tain­ty: Will this new idea ac­tu­al­ly work? What will peo­ple think of me if I ac­cept it?

One of many scien­tists ri­di­culed in his time for work now con­sid­ered sem­i­nal—the Ameri­can phys­i­cist Rob­ert God­dard (1882-1945)


Our love of cre­ativ­ity is what we pro­fess in pub­lic—but our dread of it is what we tend to hide from the world, and of­ten even from our­selves, they add.

The study is im­por­tant, they con­tin­ue, be­cause so­ci­e­ty lov­ing­ly ex­pends re­sources to fos­ter cre­ativ­ity in each new gener­ation—then of­ten turns around and squash­es the new ide­as that re­sult. It’s time to fig­ure out ways to put a stop to this, they say.

“Robert God­dard, the fa­ther of mod­ern rock­et pro­pul­sion, en­dured rid­i­cule and de­ri­sion from his con­tem­po­rary sci­en­tif­ic peers who stat­ed his ide­as were lu­di­crous and im­pos­si­ble,” they not­ed as an ex­am­ple, in a re­port on their find­ings. The pa­per ap­pears in the Nov. 29 ad­vance on­line is­sue of the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence.

Sci­en­tists in eve­ry gen­er­a­tion from Gal­i­le­o to Dan­iel Shecht­man—2011 No­bel lau­re­ate in chem­istry—were in­i­tial­ly rid­i­culed for now-famous work. The same can be said of a le­gion of artists.

“The field of cre­ativ­ity may need to shift its cur­rent fo­cus from iden­ti­fy­ing how to gen­er­ate more cre­ative ide­as to iden­ti­fy­ing how to help in­no­va­tive in­sti­tu­tions rec­og­nize and ac­cept cre­ativ­ity,” Mueller and col­leagues wrote. “If peo­ple hold an im­plic­it bi­as against cre­ativ­ity, then we can­not as­sume that or­gan­iza­tions, in­sti­tu­tions or even sci­en­tif­ic en­deav­ors will de­sire and rec­og­nize cre­ative ide­as even when they ex­plic­it­ly state they want them.”

Mueller and col­leagues paid a group of par­tici­pants to take a se­ries of tests de­signed to re­veal both con­scious and un­con­scious at­ti­tudes to­ward cre­ativ­ity. 

In one test that took the form of a word-associ­ation game, they found that par­tici­pants seemed to dis­play an un­con­scious neg­a­tive at­ti­tude to­ward cre­ativ­ity if the ex­peri­menters had made an at­tempt to plant thoughts of un­cer­tain­ty in their heads. They tried to seed this un­cer­tain­ty by prom­is­ing that some par­tici­pants would later re­ceive an ad­di­tion­al pay­ment based on a lot­tery. In the word game—si­m­i­lar to a type of test pre­vi­ous­ly used to re­veal un­con­scious ra­cial at­ti­tudes—re­search­ers sought to meas­ure wheth­er par­tici­pants took a lit­tle long­er to as­so­ci­ate words re­lat­ed to cre­ativ­ity with pos­i­tive things than with neg­a­tives ones, or vice-versa.

In a sec­ond ex­peri­ment, the re­search­ers found that neg­a­tive feel­ings about cre­ativ­ity al­so dis­rupted the abil­ity to rec­og­nize that qua­lity. In this part, they pre­sented par­tici­pants with an idea for an in­ven­tion that had been judged cre­ative by a group of col­lege stu­dents. It in­volved a sneak­er with a nan­otech­nol­ogy that sup­posed­ly ad­justed fab­ric thick­ness to cool the foot and re­duce blis­ters.

Mueller and col­leagues point­ed to one pos­si­ble route through which sci­en­tif­ic in­sti­tu­tions are sti­fling their own abil­ity to rec­og­nize cre­ativ­ity.

“When jour­nals ex­tol cre­ative re­search, uni­vers­ities train sci­en­tists to pro­mote cre­ative so­lu­tions, R&D com­pa­nies com­mend the de­vel­op­ment of new prod­ucts, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies praise cre­ative med­i­cal break­throughs, they may do so in ways that pro­mote un­cer­tain­ty by re­quir­ing gate-keepers to iden­ti­fy the sin­gle ‘best’ and most ‘ac­cu­rate’ idea there­by cre­at­ing an un­ac­knowl­edged aver­sion to cre­ativ­ity,” they wrote.

“Fu­ture re­search should iden­ti­fy fac­tors which mit­i­gate or re­verse the bi­as against cre­ativ­ity.”

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