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Creativity is on the decline, studies say

Published: Friday, Sept. 27 2013 8:00 a.m. MDT

Detail of an infographic on creativity by iStock.

iStock

A new survey finds that creativity may be on the decline in the United States and the U.K.

The "Free the Creative" study released this week by iStock, a stock image and graphics company based in Canada, found that almost half the people in creative professions (48 percent) believe that the levels of creativity in their industry have stagnated or declined in the past 10 years. Nearly one quarter (23 percent) of these "creatives," such as art directors or graphic designers, spend less than two hours of their workday doing creative work.

The study also found:

"The majority (60 percent) of creatives said that they have had 'great ideas' in the last year but not enough time or support at work to achieve what they wanted."

"Nearly three quarters (70 percent) of respondents said they want more 'creative time' and 63 percent said they do not have the time they need for 'creative reflection and inspiration.'"

Thirty-four percent of creatives say work is a top location for creativity — the same percentage of people who said their commute was a top location for creativity.

"Our research raises questions around the state of creativity today in industries vital to the global economy," said Ellen Desmarais, general manager at iStock, in a press release. "When you consider that global revenues last year in the advertising industry alone were nearly half a trillion dollars, declining creativity is cause for alarm and should prompt an industry-wide discussion. The bottom line — we need to free the creative."

The problem, Desmarais said, is "rising pressures from increasing workloads, ever-tighter deadlines and constrained budgets." These things are "wearing creatives down."

Just last year, Peter Gray at Psychology Today wrote about how children's creativity is declining. Kyung Hee Kim, a professor of education at the College of William and Mary, analyzed the scores of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking of schoolchildren.

"According to Kim's analyses," Gray wrote, "the scores on these tests at all grade levels began to decline somewhere between 1984 and 1990 and have continued to decline ever since. The drops in scores are highly significant statistically and in some cases very large.

"In Kim's words, the data indicate that 'children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.'"

Kim, writing on The Creativity Post, called it a "creativity crisis."

"(P)eople in general are becoming less able to think creatively, and they are less tolerant of creativity and of creative people," she wrote. "Especially, younger children are less able to think creatively."

She said creativity is killed by addictive behaviors: "Drugs, television, emails, Facebook and other websites, video games, newspapers, and other activities become addictions that distract from the achievement of creative products. … The computer game Minecraft boasts almost 34,000,000 registered players, and Warcraft boasts over 12,000,000 concurrent players.

"Playing one of these games, if it is a new experience, could foster creative thinking; however, once that experience becomes an addiction, it hinders creativity. Players are known to stay up for marathon sessions lasting for days. When engaged in this type of activity, 'play' and 'game' are misnomers, because the activity is compulsive and out of control, and interfering in display of creative attitude and in engaging in creative thinking."

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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