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Dev Sci. 2013 Jan;16(1):2-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01176.x. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

The development of creative cognition across adolescence: distinct trajectories for insight and divergent thinking.

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Institute for Psychological Research, Leiden University, The Netherlands.


We examined developmental trajectories of creative cognition across adolescence. Participants (N = 98), divided into four age groups (12/13 yrs, 15/16 yrs, 18/19 yrs, and 25-30 yrs), were subjected to a battery of tasks gauging creative insight (visual; verbal) and divergent thinking (verbal; visuo-spatial). The two older age groups outperformed the two younger age groups on insight tasks. The 25-30-year-olds outperformed the two youngest age groups on the originality measure of verbal divergent thinking. No age-group differences were observed for verbal divergent thinking fluency and flexibility. On divergent thinking in the visuo-spatial domain, however, only 15/16-year-olds outperformed 12/13-year-olds; a model with peak performance for 15/16-years-old showed the best fit. The results for the different creativity processes are discussed in relation to cognitive and related neurobiological models. We conclude that mid-adolescence is a period of not only immaturities but also of creative potentials in the visuo-spatial domain, possibly related to developing control functions and explorative behavior.

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