Problem Finding and Creativity: A Meta-Analytic Review

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This study examined the relationship between problem finding (PF) and creativity. A search of published and unpublished studies in English from 1960 to 2015 resulted in 40 studies with a total of 6,649 male and female participants, with ages ranging from childhood to adulthood. Accordingly, this meta-analysis estimated the population correlations between PF and creativity within the 40 studies; it examined whether the correlations varied according to the sample characteristics or other aspects of the individual investigations. We also examined how various labels are used in PF literature and how the terms differ from one another. Using the random-effects model, the results showed that PF and creativity were significantly correlated, r = .22 (95% confidence interval [.11, .32], p = < .001), but with high heterogeneity. Moreover, 3 of 5 moderators were significant and explained the variation in the mean effect size: (a) the various indices of divergent thinking, (b) the PF domain, and (c) participants’ age. An analysis of variance showed that using different labels in PF and creativity research did not significantly alter study results. Still, the findings suggest that PF consists of various processes that evolve when individuals discover, identify, or define problems. This study also calls for measures that can assess ill-defined problems to complement existing divergent thinking measures that assess presented problems.

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