Monday, October 10, 2011

ADHD, Creativity, and Reduced Inhibition

"ADHD may have negative consequences for academic achievement, employment performance, and social relationships. However one positive consequence of ADHD may be enhanced creativity..."

Using the Remote Associates Test as a measure of convergent thinking and Unusual Uses Task as a measure of divergent thinking, White and Shah found that college students with ADHD scored higher than their non-ADHD counterparts on the Unusual Uses Task (fluency, flexibility, and originality), but lower than the control group on the Remote Associates Test.

The authors conclude:

"...the current findings have exciting implications for non-laboratory contexts. Research suggests that different types of creative thinkers may excel at different types of problem-solving (e.g., Finke, 1996; Zhang, 2002). For example, Finke (1996) describes ‘‘chaotic thinkers’’ as individuals who have an unstructured, spontaneous cognitive style (‘‘chaotic cognition’’) that tends to result in original creative products (Finke, 1996). This divergent thinking style may facilitate insight thinking, or ‘‘thinking outside the box’’.... to what extent are the negative consequences of ADHD balanced by some possible benefits? Rather than focusing exclusively on the limitations associated with ADHD, perhaps future studies will address the potential benefits of the uninhibited ADHD mind."

Creativity in Adults with ADHD


  1. Hmm. I'm not at all surprised that they found higher creativity in people with ADHD, especially given the evidence that having less attentional filters can help make people in general more creative. But I'm confused about why they used the Remote Associate Test as a convergent thinking measure. In creativity studies it's usually used as a test of divergent thinking and creative ability. Do you know what they might have been thinking?

  2. I know what you mean, Emily. I suppose because they were using a convergent answer to the Remote Associate Test (one answer that links distant words) that they thought it was a good contrast to alternative uses.