Creativity, Flexibility, and Aging

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Ealy, Denise
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Middle Tennessee State University
ABSTRACT Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to switch between tasks, concepts, or strategies. It is a fundamental element of executive functioning and has been shown to be positively associated with creativity. Past studies have demonstrated that cognitive flexibility may increase accessibility to creative ideas through inhibiting fixating thoughts and promoting perspective switching processes. Despite substantial evidence that cognitive abilities decline with age, recent research suggests that creativity may remain stable in adulthood. Further, it may be an important factor in successful aging. While the relationship between aging and creativity is not fully understood, evidence suggests that engagement in creative activities during later life is associated with more positive outcomes. The current study aims to prime cognitive flexibility with a divided attention task in order to increase creativity in younger and older adults. The divided attention task consisted of a go/no-go task and spatial attention task. Creativity was measured using the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults (ATTA). A two-way ANOVA was conducted to assess creativity based on the priming task and age group. While there were no significant results, it was revealed that young adults were slightly more creative than older adults. Similarly, those in the experimental condition displayed slightly more creative ability compared to those in the control condition. However, more research is needed to fully elucidate the relationship between creativity, cognitive flexibility, and age.
Cognitive Flexibility, Creativity, Older Adults, Priming, Experimental psychology, Cognitive psychology, Aging