The creative quotient.

The academic treatment of creativity, its structured study, began around the early 50’s thanks to psichometric theorists like Joy Guilford and Ellis Torrance.

Was this attempt to measure creativity exactly the intention of assigning a number to the creative potential of a person, the framework that originates the concept of creative quotient.

This quotient, as happens with its cousin the intellectual quotient, is calculated from a test whose results are then processed by a formula that delivers a number: that higher it is, the more creative the subject of the test.

Four australian researchers (Allan Snyder, John Mitchell, Terry Bossomaier y Gerry Pallier), starting with a general definition of creativity and another one about the creative quotient, proposed in 2004 a formula to process the classic test that invites one to imagine all the possible uses for a familiar object.

For them creativity is the ability to connect ideas apparently disparate to compose a novel synthesis.

On the other hand, they defined creative quotient as the number that either expresses, the ideational fluency (the volume of ideas generated around something), and its flexibility (the quantity of categories that gathers the generated ideas).

Let us briefly see, step by step, this whole process and briefly calculate our own creative quotient.

We will start with the test that proposses imagining all the possible uses (standard and invented by us), of a familiar object, for instance, a chair, a sheet of paper, a shirt or anything else.

1- Let’s choose that object, or ask somebody else — if we are going to self-evaluate — to select us one

2- Let’s write on a piece of paper all the uses that we discover for this object, trying to gather them under different categories.

If we choose the chair, use it as a chair (the most obvious and standardized use), as a table or a clothes tree, will be three uses that could compose a category called, e.g, “furniture”.

If in addition we imagine that a chair can be used to protect ourselves from the rain, the wind, to lock doors or escape from an animal, this second category could be called “protection”.

In this way, during five minutes (some creativity theorists point out this time threshold saying that beyond five minutes, creativity suffers a decaying tipping point), we will write uses and will asign them to categories.

3- Once the time finishes, let’s apply the following formula to the test results:

CQ= log2 {(1 + u1) (1 + u2) (1 + u3)…}

Where “CQ” is the creative quotient and “u1”, “u2”, “u3” are the additions of the uses of each category.


Let us imagine a chair as the chosen object for the test.

Let’s consider that the person that made the test, discribed the following categories and uses:

Category 1: “furniture” Uses: chair, table, shelf, stair, clothes tree, clothes horse, grill

Category 2: “protection” Uses: against rain, against wind, chest guard, helmet, fire isolation, water isolation, against animals, door locker

Category 3: “communication medium” Uses: media to write in its back, stand to go up and talk to the public

Category 4: “combustible” Uses: supply for ignition

Then, his or her creative quotient will be:

CQ= log2 {(1 + 7) (1 + 8) (1 + 2) (1 + 1)}

CQ= 8.75

This formula -to simplify- uses the logarithm base 2 or binary logarithm (in the same way the information theory traditionally uses it), because the combination of uses of all the categories is often quite high, and by considering that the uses of each category could be additive.

There are other formulas to process the same test, some of them simpler and other that contemplate other aspects, like one that sees that the second use within a category is less worthy than the first one and so on, but this log base 2 formula presents two advantages: simplicity and the ability to measure both, the ideational fluency as well as its flexibility.