Back to the basics: Abstract painting as an index of creativity

Lucas Bellaiche, Anna P. Smith, Nathaniel Barr, Alexander Christensen, Chloe Williams, Anya Ragnhildstveit, Jonathan Schooler, Roger Beaty, Anjan Chatterjee, Paul Seli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers have invested a great deal in creating reliable, “gold-standard” creativity assessments that can be administered in controlled laboratory settings, though these efforts have come at the cost of not using ecologically and face-valid tasks. To help fill this critical gap, we developed and implemented a novel, face-valid paradigm that required participants to paint abstract pieces of art, which were later rated for creative quality. We first sought to evaluate whether there was good convergence among creativity ratings provided by independent raters. Next, we examined whether its measure of creativity correlated with (a) existing creativity measures and (b) individual traits (e.g. openness, fluid intelligence) that are typically correlated with indices of creativity. Our findings indicate that our abstract-painting paradigm is feasible to implement (independent ratings of the creativity of the paintings converged well), and that its measure of creativity significantly correlated with some of the gold-standard indices of creativity (thereby providing convergent validity). These findings suggest that having participants engage in abstract painting provides a valid index of creativity, thereby opening new opportunities for future research to index a more-face-valid measure of creativity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-713
Number of pages16
JournalCreativity Research Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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