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Test How Creative You Are

Take the Torrance Test of Creativity

Take a FREE Web class on Unleashing Engineering Creativity (real class, not a sales webinar). It’s FREE, so sign up now!

The Test

Here’s a quick way to assess your creativity based on one of the Torrance tests of creative thinking. Don’t read anything below the tin can yet. Just focus on the tin can below and in one minute list as many uses for it as you can. When you are done making your list, read on.

Assessment of Test Results

Ready to analyze your test performance? Click on the box below and a pop-up will open up to help you assess and interpret your test results.

Measures of Creativity

Now that you have made your list, we’ll count and categorize your ideas. Our test will use four measures:

Fluency: This is a simple count of how many ideas you generated. If you listed 16 total ideas, your fluency count is 16.

Flexibility: Flexibility assesses the ability to develop ideas in different categories. Count the number of categories you created (for example, using a tin can as a container, using a tin can as a communications device, using as tin can as a toy, etc.).

Originality: Originality refers to any uses of the tin can that are completely original. This is the most revealing and important area. A good example of an original idea might be “a hat for a small person” (it’s completely unrelated to a tin can’s normal job of holding things).

Elaboration: Elaboration refers to the ability to develop details associated with an idea. If you suggested using the tin can as a wheel on a toy, you might have mentioned how to mount the axle or adding tape with a high coefficient of friction to boost traction. These are all examples of elaboration.

Interpretation of Results

Interpretation of your test results might surprise you. If you are like most of us, many of your ideas centered on using the tin can as a container of some sort (a coffee cup, a place to store coins, etc.). None of those ideas should be included in your originality score. They are just variations on what the tin-can can do in its normal use. While they are potential uses of our tin can, they are not original concepts. We often find that none of our ideas is completely original, or at best, we might have one or two original ideas. It’s shocking, actually.

What we are most interested in is our originality score, and in particular, the percentage of our ideas in the originality category compared to the overall number of ideas we generated. The typical score for all of us grownups in the originality category is very, very low. It’s because we’ve been conditioned to think in certain ways. Don’t despair. It’s what we almost always find for adults. (If you want to really have some fun, have your kids take the same test. It’s likely their originality score will be much higher than yours.)

So What Does It All Mean?

So what’s the intent of the above test? It’s not to find out who among us is the most creative. It’s simply a tool to make us realize we might not be as creative as we think we are. Its primary purpose is to help us recognize that we have structured thinking patterns that can interfere with our ability to develop completely new ideas. Again, don’t despair. There are powerful techniques that can help us break out of these patterns and unleash our engineering creativity. If you would like to learn more about these techniques and how to develop them in your organization, please visit
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