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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 17-Dec-10

 


Friday 17-December-10

Creative blinking

How do you know if a person is feeling creative or not? If you are facilitating a creative session this can be an important question.

Researchers Soghra Chermahini and Bernhard Hommel gave subjects the divergent task of coming up with as many uses of a brick, shoe and newspaper as possible whilst counting their blink rate. Interestingly, both lower and higher eye blink rate was associated with poorer performance, whilst a medium eye blink rate was associated with superior performance.

The researchers then gave subjects a convergent, non-creative word-matching task. In this case a low blink rate correlated with higher performance and a high blink rate with poorer performance.

So it seems that a high blink rate is bad all round and perhaps associated with confusion. For non-creative tasks the lower blink rate may be related to concentration, whilst creativity needs a greater level of uncertainty, but not so high as to cause paralysing confusion.

The researchers noted that eye blink rate is a marker for dopamine activity and that dopamine has already been associated with creativity. It is also noted as the neurotransmitter of desire (and so motivation). Creativity certainly needs a certain arousal, which explains the 'tingly' feeling some get. What is also of note is that too much motivation might cause too much focus on the solution and not enough on open exploration and reflection.

Bottom line: if you're facilitating a creative session, watch for blink rate as an indicator of insufficient / effective / excessive arousal, and change your approach accordingly.

Reference:
Chermahini, S. & Hommel, B. (2010). The (b)link between creativity and dopamine: Spontaneous eye blink rates predict and dissociate divergent and convergent thinking. Cognition, 115 (3), 458-465


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