DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTS OF ADULT REFLECTION-IMPULSIVITY ON THREE ASPECTS OF ORIGINALITY

ELLEN ARONOFF, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study examined the differential effect of the reflection-impulsivity dimension of cognitive style on the ability to produce original responses. Reflection-impulsivity was believed to involve individual differences in the tendency to consider the validity or appropriateness of possible solutions in problem situations characterized by response uncertainity. Theoretical conceptions of reflection-impulsivity equate it with evaluation in problem solving or creative production. Originality was considered in terms of the following criteria: unusualness or statistical infrequency, remoteness of associations, and cleverness. It was hypothesized that individuals whose cognitive approach was impulsive would generate original responses characterized by statistical infrequency and remoteness of associations. It was believed that the production of such responses would be facilitated by an impulsive cognitive style which is thought to be characterized by spontaneity, freedom, and uncritical production of ideas unencumbered by the constraints and inhibitions imposed by evaluation. It was predicted that individuals whose cognitive style was reflective would produce original responses considered to be clever. A reflective cognitive style, with its concomitant disposition to evaluate and be critical of one's cognitive products and performance, was believed to be more conducive to the production of clever responses for which the imposition of qualitative criteria is important.^ Eighty-four female college students between the ages of 16 and 43 were categorized as reflective or impulsive on the basis of their performance on the Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT). Such classifications were based on simultaneous median splits along the reaction time and error dimensions of this instrument. Three aspects of originality were assessed by the Unusual Uses Test, the Consequence Test, and the Plot Titles Test.^ Results indicated that college students whose cognitive style was either reflective or impulsive did not differ with respect to their ability to generate original responses characterized by unusualness or statistical infrequency, remoteness of associations, and cleverness. Subjects above and below median reaction time and median number of errors on the MFFT did not differ significantly in terms of quantitative (fluency) and qualitative (statistical infrequency, remoteness of association, and cleverness) aspects of response production on tests of originality. Verbal and mathematical scholastic aptitude, as assessed by the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), were not significantly related to performance on creativity or originality tests.^ Several explanations were advanced to account for the absence of significant results. They included: the interaction between reflective and impulsive cognitive approaches and associated characteristics in the creative process and the creative person; contrast or dissimilarity between the MFFT and tests of originality in terms of content, format, and problem-solving task characteristics; and most important, perhaps, the nature and characteristics of a highly selected sample of college students.^ Several suggestions for future research were made. Further experimental study might involve the development and/or utilization of measures of creative thinking which are more sensitive, and consequently better suited to making distinctions among individuals who are highly selected in terms of intellectual ability and academic accomplishment. Another suggestion was for the use of nonverbal measures of creativity, more similar to the MFFT in terms of content, format, and problem-solving task characteristics. Future research might also involve the development and/or use of other means of assessing individual differences in the tendency to exercise evaluation during creative problem solving. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

ARONOFF, ELLEN, "DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTS OF ADULT REFLECTION-IMPULSIVITY ON THREE ASPECTS OF ORIGINALITY" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020976.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020976

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