Research Output
Creativity and Attention: A Multi-Method Investigation
  Creativity is a valuable attribute that involves the generation of original ideas; attention is a vital function that facilitates information selection. Past research has related these cognitive constructs, having found that highly creative people tend to be more distractible than those less creative, which allows them to produce more novel associations.
This thesis aimed to test the relationship between these two processes using multiple tests of creativity (e.g., achievement, divergent thinking, and collage-making) and attention (e.g., focused, sustained, selective, and divided attention), which represented the complexity of each construct, and improved upon the methods previously reported. Additionally, the performance of participants with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was compared to those without.
Four studies were carried out. Within the first two, creativity scores were compared and related to attention scores, within and between control and ADHD groups. No consistent relationships were found. The ADHD group had higher creativity scores on average, but the differences were not significant.
Study three incorporated eye-tracking techniques to explore the effect of visual stimulation on creativity and attention performance between-groups. It was found that the ADHD group looked at the attention task targets significantly less, yet their performance was not significantly worse. No between-group differences in creativity were found. The visually stimulating environment did not affect performance.
Study four investigated the effect of an incubation period on creativity. Results showed that incubation increased the proportion of original ideas, but performance did not vary according to incubation task demand. However, self-report responses indicated that participants did not sufficiently engage in the incubation period, as they continued to think consciously of solutions.
The link between creativity and attention is not supported, and the idea that ADHD is beneficial to creativity is not fully upheld. Further research should examine creativity and attention in work or university settings, to consider the existence of a ‘real life’ relationship

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 September 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    BF Psychology

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    158 Applied psychology

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Carruthers, L. Creativity and Attention: A Multi-Method Investigation. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Creativity, attention, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),

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