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This study investigated the effects of mental imagery, reward and gender
on creativity. One hundred and seven- six senior secondary two (SS2)
Students of Alvana Model Secondary School Alvan Ikoku College of
Education, Owerri, Imo State, completed the Vividness of Visual Imagery
Questionnaire (VVIQ). Of these students, Nine- six (48 male and 48
females) was classified as vivid imagers and non-vivid imagers based on
their performance on VVIQ. They were assigned randomly into reward
and no reward conditions in unusual creative uses of a knife and creative
instances of things that are round of divergent thinking tasks. Reward was
manipulated by verbal instruction while gender was not manipulated;
rather it was employed as a basis for sample selection. Analysis of
variance (ANOVA) was the main statistic used for data analysis. Results
of the data analysis indicate that on creativity task, vivid imagers differed
significantly from non-vivid imagers (p<0.001).The finding also showed
that participants in the reward condition differed significantly from
participants in the no reward condition (p<0.001). Gender had no
significant effect on creativity. However, there was an interaction effect
between mental imagery and reward on creativity (p<0.01). Implications
of the findings were highlighted and suggestions for further research were



itle Page – – i
Certification – – ii
Dedication – – iii
Acknowledgements – – iv
Table of Contents – – vi
List of Tables – – vii
List of Figures – – viii
Abstract – – ix
Introduction – 1
Statement of the Problem – 12
Purpose of Study – 14
Operational Definition of Terms – 15
Theoretical Review – 17
Empirical Review – 36
Summary of Literature Review – 51
Hypotheses – 55
Participants – 56
Instruments – 56
Procedure – 59
Design / Statistics – 62
Results – 63
Summary of the findings – 69
Discussion – 70
Implications of findings – 77
Limitations of the study and suggestions of further study 80
Conclusion – 82



The importance of creativity for the individual and society is
beyond question. It is a complex construct (Baker & Rudd, 2001).
Creativity refers to the extent to which individuals develop ideas,
methods, or products that are both original and useful to the society. The
use of tools and languages enables humans to make new entities and
abstract communications. Visual literacy and capacity are engaged with
thinking and thus with new formation, in the learning process and concept
formation (Asael, 1997). However, mental images, alongside our verbal
vocabularies act upon human cognition, information processing and the
communication processes (Paivio, 1991; Miller & Burton, 1994).
There is no simple definition of creativity but several emphases
have been made in the past that highlight various aspects of the creative
effort, both with respect to its process as well as to its product (Hans,
2006). However, the most defining characteristic of creativity is that of
novelty. It means producing or thinking something new. Thus, creativity
requires the production of something that is original. Also, it requires
something that has not been conceived or made before. While studying
creativity as a cognitive function, originality for the individual alone is the
only requirement (Hans, 2006). For example, an individual that finds an
original solution for a certain problem, unaware of the fact that this
solution has been found previously by somebody else is considered as
been creative. Therefore, an original idea is simply a novel idea.
According to Anderson (1990), novel idea is one that no one has come up
with before; a creative idea is an idea that is original and that meets
certain standards.
A second defining characteristic of creativity according to Simonton
(1999) is that its result should be adaptive. Individuals cannot be
considered creative unless the product is adaptive or useful to the goal it
was designed for. An inventor, who produces wild ideas without any use
or practical applicability, is rather judged insane than creative (Hans,
2006). More also, the creative effort does not exist in a vacuum but is
appreciated according to practical or aestshetic standards (Simonton,
1999). For instance, Edison’s invention of the electric light may not be an
example of extraordinary complex creation but is valued and remembered
by its usefulness. A final characteristic of creativity is that some ideas or
products can be considered more creative than others (Simonton, 1999). It
implies that some creativity impresses more than others, because some
things are more profoundly new than others.
One of the most difficult questions that occur to cognitive
psychologists interest in creativity is how can creativity be possibly
defined as a single construct (Sternberg, 2003). Definitions of creativity
differ, but they have in common their emphasis on people’s ability to
produce products that are not only high in quality but also novel
(Sternberg, 2001). Sternberg (2005) relates that creativity refers to the
skills and attitudes needed for generating ideas and products that are (a)
relatively novel, (b) high in quality, and (c) appropriate to the task at
hand”. The term creativity can be an illusive term to define because
writers do not want to undermine or diminish the positive aspects that are
often associated with the word. A basic definition of creativity is the
ability to produce novel (original/unexpected) work that is high in quality
and is appropriate (useful). A survey of definitions of creativity highlights
the intriguing qualities of this term. Harris (1998) provides one of the best
descriptions of creativity:
1. An Ability: A simple definition is that creativity is the ability to
imagine or invent something new.
2. An Attitude: Creativity is also an attitude: the attitude to accept
change and newness, a willingness to play with ideas and
possibilities, a flexibility of outlook, the habit of enjoying the good,
while looking for ways to improve it and solutions.
3 . A Process: Creative people work hard and continually to improve
ideas in gradual alternations and refinements to their works.
Most investigators in the field of creativity would define creativity
as the process of producing something that is both original and useful
(Andreasen, 2005; Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Flaherty, 2005; Mumford,
2003; Runco, 2007; Sternberg & Lubart, 1996). Thus, creativity can be
referred to as the capacity to perform mental work that leads to an
outcome both novel and applicable. Creativity is therefore defined as the
process of sensing problems or gaps in information, forming ideas of
hypothesis, testing, and modifying these hypotheses, and communicating
the results. This process may lead to any one of many kinds of products –
verbal and non-verbal, concrete and abstract (Torrance, 2000). Creativity
then involves sense – making, problem finding, and interpretation of
events and situations. Creative thinking demonstrates fluency, flexibility,
and originality. It is a type of problem solving characterized by its use of
novel solutions. It also includes the generation of ideas, alternatives, and
possibilities (Smith, 1998).
Creativity according to Solso (2001) is defined as a cognitive
activity that results in a new or novel way of viewing a problem or
situation. Creativity also is the ability to use the imagination to develop
new and original ideas or things, especially in an artistic context
(Microsoft Encarta, 2008). It is a useful invention, ideas, writing, or
theory we have created. It also includes imaginative activity, the ability to
generate a variety of ideas, problem – solving and the ability to produce
an outcome of value and worth. Thus, its product must be correct,
practical, useful and of artistic quality.
Creativity is typically defined as the ability to generate novel
associations that are adaptive in some way (Ward, Thompson-Lake, Ely &
Kaminski, 2008). Random associations may be novel but they need not be
useful, meaningful or appreciated by others. What makes some people
more creative than others? There are many variables that appear to be
relevant. However, the present study will concentrate on the effects of
mental imagery, reward and gender differences on creativity.
Until recently, most of the investigations of individual differences
in mental imagery, as well as the investigations of individual preferences
for processing visual versus verbal information, have been based on the
assumption that imagery is an undifferentiated unitary construct and
therefore that individuals may be simply classified as good or bad imagers
(Blajenkova, Kozhevnikov & Motes, 2006). Imagery refers to the mental
depiction or recreation of people, objects, or events that are not actually
present (Finke & Freyd, 1994). According to Sternberg (2003), mental
imagery is an experience that significantly resembles the experience of
perceiving some objects, events, or scene, but that occurs when the
relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses.
Mental imagery occurs when perceptual information is accessed from
memory, giving rise to the experience of “seeing with the mind’s eye”,
“hearing with the mind’s ear”, and so on (Kosslyn, Thompson & Ganis,
2006). For example, by closing one’s eyes, and generating the appropriate
image, one can imagine the face and voice of a best friend, how
appliances are arranged in the room, or the manner in which a dog runs.
The experience of imagining something is similar in many respects to that
of actually perceiving something. Thus, in some cases, the image can be
exceptionally clear or vivid.
Hypothetically, we can use imagery to envision things. A person
can imagine a creature consisting of the head of a chicken and the body of
a lion, and even explore how that creature might behave, even when
nothing of sort exists. Imagery can be used to retrieve past experiences;
recall how one’s room looked when one was a child, and to explore new
possibilities. There are many practical uses of imagery in everyday life.
One can imagine the best route for getting to school, novel ways of using
tools, or creative things to do when on vacation. Imagery can even be
helpful in such common activities as cooking a meal or writing a paper.
Several approaches have been utilized to understand how mental
imagery may be important in the creative process. One line of inquiry has
involved correlational designs that seek to examine the relationship
between various tests of mental imagery or spatial abilities and actual
creative behaviour. Getzels and Csikszentmihalyi (1976) found that spatial
visualization ability, as measured using the Guilford – Zimmerman
aptitude surveys subset of spatial visualization, part vi, Form B (Guilford
& Zimmerman, 1956), was positively correlated with creative
performance as measured by college art grades for all students, except a
sample of “highly creative male art students” (Morrison & Wallace,
A second approach that has been used to study a possible mental
imagery – creativity connection, are correlational designs involving
imagery self – report questionnaires and traditional psychometric
measures of creativity. One characteristic of visual imagery that has been
extensively studied using self – report questionnaires is image vividness.
Vividness relates to the realness of a mental image; however, images like
other manifestations of memory are not actual mental copies of previously
perceived scenes and thus vivid imagers are sometimes misled by their
mental images (Reisberg, Culver, Heuer & Fischman, 1986). In spite of
the possibility of deception, vivid images may help to motivate individuals
in activities requiring deliberate imagery (Roskos – Ewoldsen, Intons-
Peterson, & Anderson, 1993).
Divergent thinking, an important component of creative
performance, involves the production-varied responses to a problem or a
question that has multiple alternative solutions (Guilford, 1968; Runco,
1991; Winton & Baker, 1985). According to general behaviour theory,
divergent thinking, as any discriminable response class, should be
enhanced by systematic reward (Skinner, 1953; Torrance, 1970; Winston
& Baker, 1985). Thus, researchers who take a utilitarian approach to
studying the relationship between reward and creativity adapted the
repeated reward for creative performance. In contrast, cognitively oriented
researchers forgo such creativity training in favour of the simpler
procedure of promising reward on a single occasion. According to learned
industriousness theory (Eisenberger, 1992), expected reward for creative
performance, whether established by repeated reward for creativity or by
the promise of reward for creativity, should increase creative performance.
Thus, it should be possible to show effects of reward on creativity using
verbal promises of tangible reward as well as repeated tangible reward.
Eisenberger, Armeli, and Pretz (1998) found that the promise of reward
explicitly for novel performance increased novelty.
Findings of decremental reward effects produced by the promise of
reward for unspecified performance have not resolved the issue of
whether reward could be used to increase creativity. The effects of
promising reward for unspecified performance, as used by cognitive
researchers, might differ from the effects of making reward specifically
contingent on creativity. Thus, neither the procedures used by utilitarian
researchers nor those used by cognitively oriented researchers provide
clear evidence concerning whether reward as used in everyday life
increases creativity. Therefore, for reward to increase or decrease
creativity depends on whether creative or conventional performance is
construed to be appropriate.
These results support the notion that interpersonal variables are
important inhibitors of creativity (Baker & Rudd, 2001). The inhibitors of
creativity consist of biological variables such as age, genetics, health
status, and gender (Krippner, 1991). Thus, the majority of the research has
been concentrated on gender and birth order. There is no consensus on the
impact of gender upon creativity.
The question of gender differences in creativity is a complex,
controversial, and contentions issue (Baer, 2005). Gender differences in
creative achievement exist in many domains, especially if one focuses on
the highest levels of creative accomplishment. It is far clear; however,
what has caused those differences. In fields in which men have
predominated, as in the sciences and many of the arts, it has been argued
that the relative paucity of women’s accomplishments is entirely due to
societal constraints. Women have not been allowed to participate to the
same degree as men, and have therefore naturally not been able to achieve
as much as men (Baer, 2005). Helson (1990) for example, argued that a
combination of cultural value, social roles, and sexist thinking explain the
differences in creative achievement by women and men. As children, girls
are less likely to be singled out as special by their parents. These early
differences are then magnified by the rules, roles, and assumptions of
cultures (a) that expect men to seek power and women to be dominated,
(b) that encourage men to be independent and women to be dependent,
and (c) that see creativity as a male privilege. Given this understanding of
the working of culture, Helson (1990) argued that it is hard to a sense of
mystery about why there are more eminent men than women.
It is undeniably true that men have controlled access to many fields
and have limited women’s participation in those fields. It is certainly
possible, but also less certain, that a complete explanation for gender
differences in creative achievement can be accounted for by a
combination of such environmental factors as (a) gender differences in
availability of schooling and other important resources, (b) different
expectations and other common socializing experiences in the
development of boys and girls, and (c) control by men of the standards by
which individual accomplishment have been judged (Baer, 2005).
Torrance (1983) in his study observes that males and females
perform at similar levels of tests designed to measure creative potential.
He found that girls perceive themselves not to be inventors and their
environment largely influenced them. Harriss (1989) found that women
were discouraged from becoming artists. Torrance and Allioti (1969)
discovered that 13 year old girls had higher verbal creative ability
compared to boys of the same age. Gupta (1979) did not find that there
was a significant difference between boys and girls in verbal creative
ability, but found that there were distinct elements of non-verbal ability in
which each scored significantly higher.
Questions such as how or why men and women differ in their
creative thinking or their creative accomplishments are both difficult to
tackle experimentally and highly charged politically. Although there have
been numerous studies comparing the divergent thinking abilities of girls
and boys, abilities hypothesized to underlie creative thinking and
achievement- investigations of gender differences in creative achievement
have been relatively few in number. Research studies in this area have
often been either very limited in their focus or quite speculative in their
approach. Thus, in this study we shall examine such differences.
The basic rational for the study of creativity is seen in the vital role
mental imagery play in our mental lives. Creativity is a critical element in
our intellectual development and mental representation of objects, events
and ideas in our everyday activities. Creativity significantly enhances the
thinking processes. Differences in gender and reward also play a vital role
in our understanding of mental representation of objects, events and ideas,
and in our creative thinking abilities. The researcher’s interest is in
examining some variables, which are believed to be influential in
creativity. In the present study, the researcher examines the effects of
mental imagery, reward and gender on creativity.
The present study would use VIVIQ to classified imagery into vivid
imagers and non-vivid imagers, and measure its effects on creativity task.
Also, the present study would manipulate reward, and measure its effect
on creativity task. In addition, gender would not be manipulated; rather it
will be used in this study as basis for sample selection. Its inclusion is to
determine whether creativity is gender dependent.
Statement of the Problem
Creativity is a complex construct (Baker, 2001) and is most
commonly expressed through a broad range of intelligences including
linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal and
perhaps even intrapersonal (Gardner, 1985). Research findings that show
the relationship between mental imagery and creativity have notably
increased in the last forty years (Sobel & Rotenberg, 1980; Lopez, 2002).
Schmeidler (1965) shows a significant correlation between the scores of
questionnaires on the ability to create mental images and on creativity.
Good imagers tended to have high scores in creativity tests, while poor
imagers had low scores on creativity tests, suggesting that mental imagery
is an important way to creativity but not the only one. Mental imagery is
thus at least a potentially integral part of the creative process, though the
degree in which the subject relies on mental imagery for creation will
depend on cognitive, personality and training factors (Lopez, 2002). A
primer for teachers on promoting classroom creativity, published by the
National Education Association, warns that the expectancy of reward
greatly interferes with students’ creativity (Tegano, Moran, & Sawyers,
1991). These views are consistent with the common presumption that
people are most creative when left free to guide their own behaviour,
thereby reducing creativity by causing tasks to be defined more narrowly.
It also leads to distraction of attention from the task at hand. Contradictory
evidences such as these raise many questions about the effects of
anticipatory reward on creativity. Gender difference on creativity, as
discussed earlier is a complex, controversial, and contentious issue (Baer,
2005), and there is not a consensus on the impact of gender on creativity.
Thus, the questions of how and why men and women differ in their
creative thinking have remained to be fully revealed (Baer, 2005).
Because there has not been a consensus on the impact of mental imagery,
reward and gender on creativity, the present study seeks to find answers to
the following problems.
1. Does mental imagery facilitate creativity?
2. Does reward interferes with individuals’ creativity?
3. Is creativity gender dependent?
Purpose of the Study
Evidence from imagery research largely indicates that mental
imagery is effective in producing high scores on creativity task (Lopez,
2002). In contrast, there has been an inconsistent results on the effects of
reward on creativity (Amabile, 1983; Collins & Amabile, 1999), Collins
ans Amabile maintain that expected reward reduces creativity by reducing
intrinstic task interest. Also, in many creativity studies (e.g. Naderi,
Abdullah, Tengru-Arian, Sharers & Mallan, 2009, Planiappan, 2000), both
male and female participants are often tested, yet assessment of possible
gender differences are reported. This development limits their conclusive
and generalized inferences. Thus, it is the aim of this study to investigate:
1. whether there would be differences in the performance of vivid
imagers and non-vivid imagers on creativity task;
2. whether there would be differences in the performance of reward and
no reward conditions on creativity task and;
3. whether there would be gender differences on creativity task.
Operational Definition of Terms
Mental imagery: In this study, mental imagery refers to the image
formed in imagining a particular situation not present to the eye (sensory
receptors or perception) as measured with Marks (1973) Vividness of
Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ). Mental imagery is classified into
two levels, participants scoring 70 or less on the VVIQ was classified as
vivid imagers, while participants scoring 71 or more on the same scale
were classified as non- vivid imagers.
Reward: In this study, reward refers to anticipatory reward given to
assess the creative performance of the participants. It would be
manipulated by randomly assigning participants into two treatment
conditions: reward and no reward. Also, reward would be manipulated by
verbal instruction.
Gender: The fact of been male or female.
Creativity: Creativity in this study refers to the extent in which
individuals generate unusual uses of common objects (e.g., unusual uses
of knife) and instances of common concepts (e.g., instances of things that
are round); and is measured in this study with Silvia and Colleagues
(2008) divergent thinking tasks.