Divergent Thinking (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The ability to develop original and unique ideas and to envision multiple solutions to a problem.
The concept of divergent thinking was developed in the 1950s by psychologist J.P. Guilford, who saw it as a major component of creativity and associated it with four main characteristics. The characteristics were fluency (the ability to rapidly produce a large number of ideas or solutions to a problem); flexibility (the capacity to consider a variety of approaches to a problem simultaneously); originality (the tendency to produce ideas different from those of most other people); and elaboration (the ability to think through the details of an idea and carry it out). Guilford, whose research was oriented toward testing and measurement (psychometrics), believed that creative thinkers are at a disadvantage when taking standard intelligence tests, which penalize divergent thinking and reward its opposite, convergent thinkinghe ability to narrow all possible alternatives down to a single solution (the type of thinking required by multiple choice tests).
Over a number of years, the Aptitudes Research Project (ARP) at the University of Southern California, under Guilford's leadership, devised an extensive sequence of tests to measure intellectual abilities, including creativity. Some of the ARP divergent...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
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