Innovating Through Artistry

Are We More or Less Creative as We Age?

In Creativity and Innovation on March 4, 2009 at 3:05 am

A 1968 study by George Land, a general systems scientist interested in the development of creative performance, revealed that we are naturally creative as children. However, as he shared in Grow or Die: the Unifying Principle of Transformation, as we grow up we learn to be increasingly uncreative.

How did George Land prove this?
Over a 15 year period he distributed among 1,600 5-year-olds a test designed to measure creativity. This test was used by NASA to select innovative engineers and scientists. George Land used the test to re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. Here are his results with regards to their creativity:

5 year olds: 98%
10 year olds: 30%
15 year olds: 12%

The same test was also given to 280,000 adults with a 2% score for their creativity.

Why are adults not as creative as children?
For most, creativity has been buried by the structures we build that involve rules and regulations. Our educational system was designed during the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, to train us to be good workers and follow instructions.

Creativity is a skill that can be developed. Learning to be creative, like most things in life, requires practice to develop the right muscles, and a supportive environment in which to flourish.

  1. As far as I see it “creativity” is subjective in nature therefore cannot be defined by a single universal standard. Also, the variables for such a test cannot accurately portray this conclusion, since lifestyle and various influences play a huge role in the outcome and can vary from person to person. Though, the growing life of a person CAN hinder their creativity given the right circumstances, I do not believe it is a set fact for most people.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I checked out your blog, btw, it looks like you have something cool started. Great thought about this post. Hope you keep your ideas coming!


  3. Will do, I’ve book marked this blog. 🙂

    The post here really make me think, which is hard to find in many blogs I visit on a daily basis.

  4. Thanks! Wait until April! We have between 8 and 10 new bloggers who will be sharing their ideas about creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship with you!

  5. Does anyone know exact what test questions he gave to the children to measure creativity? I tried very hard to find it on the internet in vain.

  6. Did you check either of these source out? Escape from the Maze: Increasing Individual and Group Creativity by James Higgins; also George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993

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