A study of the reliability and validity of tests of divergent thinking.

  • P. N. Richards

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


A great deal of psychological and educational practice over the last twenty years has been based on the belief that creative abilities are present to some extent in all children, and tests of divergent thinking (D.T.) have been widely used as criteria of 'creativity' in the research literature. The first part of this study considers the theoretical background to the above statement, and expresses some doubts about the reliability and validity of D.T. tests. The identification of D.T. tests as tests of 'creativity' was considered unwarranted though some theoretical association was claimed in this respect, and a review of previous researches lent some support to this view. Considering the problems involved in scoring D.T. tests, the varied information on reliability and construct validity, and the limited reports of long-term stability and criterion- related validity, an attempt was made to investigate each of these aspects, with three D.T. tests, 'Circles', 'Uses', and 'Consequences', The main investigation involved 161 eleven-year-old children, and the long-term stability results were obtained from a follow-up study after nearly five years, of 139 pupils of 15 and 16 years of age. The findings gave some positive support to each aspect investigated, though limitations and variations between different tests and between the sexes were also observed. In general the D.T. tests emerged, after considerable scrutiny, as reasonably reliable measures of an intellectual ability which was relatively independent of intelligence, showed development and stability of relative ranking over time, and was positively related to creative behaviour. Though the identification of D.T. tests as 'creativity' tests was rejected, both theoretically and experimentally, a limited amount of association between D.T. and creative behaviour was demonstrated, and the evidence should provide some basic support for teachers who regard the fostering of D.T. abilities as a worthwhile aim.
Date of Award1977
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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