Many of us may be familiar with research connecting mood disorders with creativity—Kay Jamison famously discusses her struggles in Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, and Liz Spikol often writes on the topic on her blog, The Trouble With Spikol. Scientists have also experimented with artificially inducing subjects with one mood or another and evaluating subjects as they complete creative tasks. However, moods do not influence us all in the same way, according to many factors, not the least of which is our disposition.
Marie Forgeard, Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, took a different approach. She decided to look at the responses of students after a mood was induced while also examining their dispositions. However, she needed a creative standard by which to judge the subjects responses, and so she went in search of creativity experts, which is where the Rutgers MFA students came in.
The MFA students generated creative captions to different photographs, and then ranked each others. For us to work as effective judges, we needed to independently come to the same conclusions about the creativity of the material generated. We did, with one exception (there’s always one). That judge was discounted in the results. We then judged the effectiveness of the subject-generated creative captions, again with significant agreement. Finally, she asked students to judge the captions the Rutgers students, and measured their responses against the judge-created responses.
As a “creativity expert” in this study, what I found interesting is that there was so much agreement within the judging set. We may have different perspectives on art, we may write in different forms, and we may disagree on what creativity really means. When it comes down to it, we tend to evaluate it with significant agreement, even independently. Speaking to Marie Foregeard about this, she said that usually there is even more agreement within the judging set than what our group demonstrated. She hypothesized that it might be because as students, we were still in the process of becoming experts … food for thought.
All this without even getting to the results. But only one interesting point per post, the rest will have to wait until next time …