Study Explores the Cost of Creativity

THURSDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Intense focus can help creative people achieve success, but it may undermine their capacity for flexible thinking, new research suggests.

The Northwestern University study included 74 college students with extremely high or low scores on a questionnaire about their achievements in creative fields such as writing, music, cooking and science.

Each participant was given a series of 128 challenges in which they had one second to accurately identify either the details or the large picture. In these challenges, the students had to focus on the details before quickly shifting their attention to see the bigger picture, and vice versa.

After accounting for differences in intelligence and reaction speed, the researchers found that students with high levels of creative achievement made more mistakes (9 percent of the challenges) than less creative students (2 percent).

The study was published April 25 in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.

Some experts have suggested that creativity partly depends on a person's ability to continuously switch attention between the details and bigger picture of a given task. But this study suggests that certain creatively successful people may focus so much on one aspect that they have difficulty switching to another.

More information

Zero To Three explains how creativity helps children learn.

SOURCE: Frontiers of Psychology, news release, April 25, 2013

Related Articles

Learn More About Sharp
Sharp HealthCare is San Diego's health care leader with seven hospitals, two medical groups and a health plan. Learn more about our San Diego hospitals, choose a Sharp-affiliated San Diego doctor or browse our comprehensive medical services.

Health News is provided as a service to Sharp Web site users by HealthDay. Sharp HealthCare nor its employees, agents, or contractors, review, control, or take responsibility for the content of these articles. Please read the Terms of Use for more information.