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Take the Paperclip Test for Creative Thinking

Paperclip test for Creative Thinking in Children

What is creativity? It's the ability to come up with novel approaches to solve problems, also known as divergent thinking. It's counterpart, convergent thinking, is what we consider as "choice-making" or discernment. As we get older, convergent thinking starts to dominate and, for most people, our creative capacities decline. 

Children are well known to surpass adult capabilities when it comes to creativity. In 1968 George Land and Beth Jarman devised a test (originally meant for NASA scientists) in order to quantify the number of novel solutions an individual can propose with paperclips. When he compared the results of children who took his test to those of adults, the results were astonishing.  The percentage of people who scored at a "genius" level were:

  • 5-year-olds: 98%
  • 10-year-olds: 30%
  • 15-year-olds: 12%
  • Adults: 2%

Here how to test your child's imaginative IQ or creative capacity using this simple method: 

Take the paperclip test to determine creativity in children
Most people can come up with 10-15 uses. A good "divergent" thinker can come up with about 200 uses (this is when time is obviously not a factor!). The paperclip test is a fantastic way to exercise those divergent thinking skills on a regular basis, or as a "warmup" to a good creative thinking/brainstorming session.
How many ideas can your child come up with? Share your best answers in the comments section!


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