Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution had a good post at Marginal Review last week on the conundrums of creativity:
IQ, whatever its flaws, appears to be a general factor, that is, if you do well on one kind of IQ test you will tend to do well on another, quite different, kind of IQ test. IQ also correlates well with many and varied real world outcomes. But what about creativity? Is creativity general like IQ? Or is creativity more like expertise; a person can be an expert in one field, for example, but not in another.
In a short piece in The Creativity Post, cognitive Psychologist Rober Baer argues that creativity is domain-specific:
Efforts to assess creativity have been plagued by supposedly domain-general divergent-thinking tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, although even Torrance knew they were measuring domain-specific skills. (He create two different versions of the test, one that used verbal tasks and another that used visual tasks. He found that scores on the two tests were unrelated —they had a correlation of just .06—so they could not be measuring a single skill or set of skills. They were—and still are—measuring two entirely different things.)
That's interesting that the Torrance Tests have such a low g factor for creative thinking.
None of this is to say that there isn't such a thing as creativity or that it can't be measured, but that it's hard. And that means that when people say that IQ is overrated, that creativity is what counts, they are both right in one sense, but it's not as useful a sense as they think it is. It's not that hard to make predictions based on IQ, but it's harder to make predictions based on creativity.
With creativity, for instance, a lot of things keep happening until they stop. The residents of Florence, for example, were the most creative people on Earth, until, after a while, they weren't. This lack of predictive power makes creativity fascinating but frustrating.