Creativity and the Three-Ring Model Of Giftedness

The third cluster of traits that characterize gifted persons [according to the three-ring model of giftedness] consists of factors that have usually been lumped together under the general heading of "creativity." As one reviews the literature in this area, it becomes readily apparent that the words "gifted," "genius," and "eminent creators" or "highly creative persons" are used synonymously. In many of the research projects discussed above, the persons ultimately selected for intensive study were in fact recognized because of their creative accomplishments. In MacKinnon's study, for example, panels of qualified judges (professors of architecture and editors of major American architectural journals) were asked first to nominate and later to rate an initial pool of nominees, using the following dimensions of creativity : 1) originality of thinking and freshness of approaches to architectural problems, 2) constructive ingenuity, 3) ability to set aside established conventions and procedures when appropriate, and 4) a flair for devising effective and original fulfillments of the major demands of architecture: namely, technology (firmness), visual form (delight), planning (commodity), and human awareness and social purpose.16

When discussing creativity, it is important to consider the problems researchers have encountered in establishing relationships between scores on creativity tests and other more substantial accomplishments. A major issue that has been raised by several investigators deals with whether or not tests of divergent thinking actually measure "true" creativity. Although some validation studies have reported limited relationships between measures of divergent thinking and creative performance criteria17 the research evidence for the predictive validity of such tests has been limited. Unfortunately, very few tests have been validated against real-life criteria of creative accomplishment, and in cases where such studies have been conducted the creativity test have done poorly. Thus, although divergent thinking is indeed a characteristic of highly creative persons, caution should be exercised in the use and interpretation of tests designed to measure this capacity.

Given the inherent limitations ofcreativity tests, a number of writers have focused attention on alternative methods for assessing creativity. Among others, Nicholls suggests that an analysis of creative products is preferable to the trait-based approach in making predictions about creative potential, 19 and Wallach proposes that student self-reports about creative accomplishment are sufficiently accurate to provide a usable source of data.20

Although few persons would argue against the importance of including creativity in a definition of giftedness, the conclusions and recommendations discussed above raise the haunting issue of subjectivity in measurement. In view of what the research suggests about the questionable value of more objective measures of divergent thinking, perhaps the time has come for persons in all areas of endeavor to develop more careful procedures for evaluating the products of candidates for special programs.


16. D. W. MacKinnon. "The Creativity of Architects." in C. W. Taylor, ed ., Widening Horizons Creativity (New York: John Wiley and Sun,, 1964), 360.

17. E. P. Torrance, "Prediction of Adult Creative Achievement Among High School Seniors," Gift Child Quarterly, vol. 13 . 1969, pp . 223-29: R. J. Shapiro. "Creative Research Scientist,." Johannesburg: National Institute for Personnel Research, 1968, Supplement No. 4; [...] and E. L. Gaier, "Identification of Creativity: The Individual." Psychological Bulletin, vol. 73. 1970, p; 55-73; and J. P. Guilford, "Some New Looks at the Nature of Creative Processes." in M. [W.] Frederiksen H. Gulliksen, eds., Contributions to Matheniauc Psychology (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964).

18. S[usan] B. Crockenburg, "Creativity Tests: A Boon or Boondoggle for Education?" Review of Education Research, vol. 42, 1972. pp. 27-45.

19. Nicholls, op . cit ., p. 721.

20. Wallach, up . cit.

-- Joseph S. Renzulli

from "What Makes Giftedness? Reexamining a Definition"

Quoted on Fri Jul 6th, 2012