Research Agenda

Causes of Creativity
My dissertation for UGA examined the affects that cultural influences have on creativity. I explored the relationship between Confucianism and creativity among Korean educators. Confucianism, governs the ethics of daily life and is a major cultural influence in Chinese-influenced societies, including China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. The four principles of Confucianism are Importance of Education, Family System, Hierarchical Relationships, and Benevolence. My research explored this influence using the framework of Rhodes (1961)’ four P’s of creativity including: Product (Ideas expressed in the form of language or craft); Person (Cognitive Abilities, Biographical Traits, Personality); Process (Mental processes that are operative in creating ideas); and Press (Person / Environment relationship). The hypothesis based on my literature review (Kim, 2007) is that Confucianism (Press) may present some creativity blocks (Kim, 2004, in press).
Using 184 Koreans, I found a negative relationship (r = -.439, p < .01) between Confucianism measured by the Eastern Western Perspective Scale (EWPS, Kim, 2004) and Creativity Index on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). I compared creative styles and Confucian ideas between the two countries using 227 Americans and 352 Koreans (Kim & Lee, 2007). I found a negative relationship between creativity (Adaptive creative style [r = -.23, p < .001]; Creative Strengths [r = -.30, p < .001]) and Confucianism. Among the 49 EWPS items, items that are categorized under the general themes of Suppression of Expression, Gender Inequality, Gender Role Expectations, Self-Effacement, Devaluing Play/Work-Play Dichotomy, and Conformity have particularly strong negative relationships with creativity. Suppression of Expression items that have strongest negative relationships with creativity include “It should not be easy to fall in love.” “Showing emotion is a sign of immaturity.” “Eccentricity has no positive components.” Gender Inequality items that have strongest negative relationships with creativity include “An obedient woman is better than a willful woman.” “A man should be the head of the household.” “Kitchen work is a woman’s job.” Gender Role Expectations items that have strongest negative relationships with creativity include “It is inappropriate for husband to hug his wife in front of his parents?” “A man who talks to his wife about his life outside the home is not considered a real man.” “A married man should put his parents’ wishes above his wife’s.” Self-Effacement items that have strongest negative relationships with creativity include “Affection should be kept within the heart rather than expressed.” “The better you are, the more self-effacing you should be.” Later I determined that Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths are related to age, gender, and Confucianism, whereas Innovative creative style is not related to these.

As expected, the results showed that Koreans have more Confucian ideals than Americans. The biggest differences in Confucianism elements between Americans and Koreans are in the area of Conformity, which are exemplified by the EWPS items (most Koreans agree, but most Americans disagree with): “I should be like everyone else.” “I would rather be normal than be creative and a little different.” “Conflict should be avoided at all times.” The second differences are around Gender Role Expectations and Gender Inequality. The results showed that males have more Confucian ideals than females, which may be explained by the male-dominant aspects of Confucianism. Men, who benefit from gender role elements of Confucianism, would naturally favor such beliefs. Consequently, the biggest differences are found in Inequality and Gender Role Expectations, which are exemplified by the EWPS items: (most males agree, but most females disagree with): “A man should be the head of the household.” “Kitchen work is a woman’s job.” “An obedient woman is better than a willful woman.” Using 376 Korean students and their mothers (n = 254) or fathers (n = 122), I explored parents’ Confucianism influence on their children's creativity (Kim, Shim, Park, & Hull, 2009). The results showed stronger negative relationships between the fathers’ elements of Confucianism (Suppression of Expression Filial Piety) and their children's creativity than those between mothers’ and their children’s. I compared the IQ's and creative potential between gifted (n= 283) and regular (n= 314) students in rural and urban settings using 340 Rural and 257 Urban Korean students (Shim, Kim, & Park, 2009). Results demonstrated that there is no difference in creativity between rural and urban students in general, but that rural gifted students have higher creative aptitudes than urban gifted students. They also indicated that urban students have higher IQ's than rural students, and that gifted students have higher IQ's than regular students.


The Effects of Creativity: Gift
I compared giftedness concepts and identification criteria for gifted programs between the U.S. and Korea (Kim, Shim, & Hull, 2009 [Article]). The results showed that the concept of giftedness among Korean people (including parents, scientists, and students) are different compared to Renzulli’s (1986) concept of giftedness in the U.S. This suggests that giftedness comes from the interaction of above average ability, task commitment, and creativity. Korean concepts of giftedness emphasize additional traits such as interpersonal relationship skills, moral values, and artistic talents besides the three components mentioned above.
The result that Koreans emphasize moral values of giftedness is consistent with my earlier study (Seo, Lee, & Kim, 2005 [Article]) in that Korean people identify how creativity affects society, whereas Western people identify how the environment affects creativity, and that Korean teachers ignore the importance of environment (Press) of the four P’s of creativity. The results also demonstrated that there is no difference in creativity and artistic talent between gifted and regular students, which might indicate that the Korean gifted students’ identification procedures overlook creative students. Gifted students have, however, higher intelligence and task commitment than regular students, whereas regular students have higher interpersonal relationship skills than gifted students.

I have studied a Korean child prodigy, YS, who was admitted to a college at the age of 9 and to a graduate school at the age of 11 (Kim, Shim, Park, & Hull, 2009). Developing creative personalities is essential for a prodigy to accomplish his or her ultimate potential. As noted above Confucianism has been found to be negatively associated with creativity (Kim, 2004, in press). Therefore, if the prodigy is immersed in a culture that does not value or encourage the expression of a creative personality, then the person’s creativity cannot flourish. (Kim, 2004, 2007, in press). Korean cultural norms are being enforced upon him. One enforcer of cultural normative behavior is his social isolation which stems from the fact that YS’s primary social outlets are his parents and professors. In addition, conflict between YS’s creative personality and his professors’ Confucian beliefs is apparent. Thus, Korean cultural norms have begun to drag YS into the realm of “the ordinary.”

Effects of Creativity: Curse
I studied underachieving students and found that there is a relationship between behavior problems and creativity (Kim & VanTassel-Baska, in press). In addition, I confirmed Torrance’s concern by finding the results that about 80% of top 20% creative students are missed if gifted students are identified solely by IQ.
I studied high school drop-outs using national data sets to examine the role of creativity in these drop-outs (Kim & Hull, 2008). Creative drop-outs show signs of maladjustment, problems with authority, nonconformity, family conflicts, hostility, suspiciousness, oversensitivity, and egotism. Using NELS:88 (National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988) and ELS:2002 (Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002) items, creative students were identified. The results indicate that having a creative personality is associated with a 62% increase in the odds of dropout.



Measurements of Creativity
Some researchers believe that creativity and IQ are separate constructs; some believe that these two are related, and others believe the Threshold Theory. The Threshold Theory suggested a correlation between creativity and IQ below an IQ of 120 but limited or no correlation above an IQ of 120. Using over 100 studies from 1961 to summer of 2004, 447 correlation coefficients were retrieved from 21 studies (N = 45,880) (Kim, 2005 [Article]). The results indicated a negligible relationship between creativity and IQ (r = .174), and do not support the Threshold Theory. Among all of the creativity measures used in the analysis, Wallach-Kogan divergent thinking tasks have the lowest relationship with IQ (r = .116), which might be because these examinations are administered in a game-like manner with unlimited time. On the other hand, Guilford divergent thinking tasks had the highest relationship with IQ (r = .250), which might be because these are administered as a serious test with a time limit and the test-takers are not specifically instructed to be creative when these are administered. The results also indicated that creativity scores are associated with IQs less within the younger group (Kindergarteners –Fifth graders) when compared with older groups, which might be due to less educational influence over their cognitive functions.
I conducted another meta-analysis study of the relationship of creative achievement with scores on creativity measures and IQ (Kim, 2008 [Article]). Using 238 rs (N =15,118) between creativity test scores and creative achievement and 89 rs (N = 5,113) between IQ and creative Achievement, I found that creative achievements are predicted by creativity test scores (r = .26) better than by IQ (r =.18). In this analysis, I measured creative achievements from vastly different domains such as art, music, writing, science (including mathematics, medicine, & engineering), leadership, and social skills. Musical achievements are predicted better by IQ than by creativity test scores, whereas art, science, writing, and social skills are predicted better by creativity test scores than by IQ. Among the measures of creativity in this analysis, the TTCT predicted (r = .33, p < .0001) creative achievements the best.

Using 3,000 Kindergartners and third and sixth graders, I examined the latent structure and measurement invariance issues of scores on the TTCT (Kim, Cramond, & Bandalos, 2006 [Article]). Although Torrance suggested that there are multiple factors on scores on the TTCT, many researchers have argued that there is only one factor on them. Using the framework of Kirton’s (1976) Adaptive and Innovative Creative Styles, I hypothesized a two-factor model on the five norm-referenced subscales of the TTCT, excluding the 13 criterion-referenced checklists of Creative Strengths. Kirton theorized that creativity is a continuum of styles ranging from Adaptive to Innovative preferences. Adaptors create original ideas that fit the existing paradigm, whereas Innovators create original ideas that challenge the existing paradigm. The Innovative factor is associated with Fluency, Originality, and Resistance to Premature Closure, whereas the Adaptive factor is associated with Elaboration, Abstractness of Titles, and Resistance to Premature Closure on the scores of the TTCT. Resistance to Premature Closure is double-loaded on both factors.

The results of the confirmatory and multiple group analyses indicated that the two-factor model have a significantly better fit than the one-factor model (Kim, 2006 [Article]; Kim et al., 2006). I added Creative Strengths in addition to the two creative styles, which leads to three distinctive factors on the TTCT scores. The latent structure of the TTCT scores show more differences across grade level than gender and also show that different grade level groups not only have different mean scores, but also different factor structures.

I have consistently found that both Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths have relationships with other measures (e.g., personality types, Confucianism, bilingualism, people from different cultures, people’s age and gender, etc.), whereas Innovative creative style has no relationship or has a different relationship with the measures noted above. I found that Confucianism has strong negative relationships with both Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths, but no relationship with Innovative creative style (Cheng, Kim, & Hull, in press, Kim, in press; Kim & Lee, 2007; Lee & Kim, 2009). Additionally, I found that Americans perform better than Koreans in measures of Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths, whereas Koreans perform better than Americans in measures of Innovative creative style. Similarly, I found that Americans perform better than Taiwanese in the area of Adaptive creative style (Cheng, Kim, & Hull, in press).
I also found that age has significant negative relationships with both Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths, but no relationship with Innovative creative style. Additionally, I found that females perform better than males on Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths, whereas there is no gender difference on Innovative creative style (Kim, in press; Kim & Lee, 2007).

I investigated the relationship between personality types and creative styles and found that Intuition is highly related to both Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths and that Perceiving is highly related to Creative Strengths (Cheng, Kim, & Hull, in press).

I found that bilingualism measured by the Word Association Test has positive relationships with both Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths, but no relationship with Innovative creative style (Lee & Kim, 2009).


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Figure2. Factor structure of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.

Therefore, the results of my studies above indicate that both Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths may function as a part of, and be further influenced by society, gender, language, age, etc. Conversely, Innovative creative style will be creative, regardless of social constructs and is less influenced by society. Divergent thinking refers to fluency, flexibility, and originality (Runco, 2008); thus, Innovative creative style (e.g., fluency and originality) may be related to divergent thinking, as Figure 2 shows. In contrast, Adaptive creative style and Creative Strengths are not related to divergent thinking. Thus the TTCT may be a better measure of creative potential, than of divergent thinking. a