Different types of creativity peaks at different ages

The idea that creativity is exclusively the domain of youth is an incorrect assumption according to researchers at Ohio State University, their finding is that creativity peaks at different ages.

The difference is that those people who generate radical ideas often do so before they are deeply knowledgeable in the conventions of their field. Alternatively experimenters take all of their career knowledge, together with decades of trial and error to go beyond the conventions of their domain.

“Many people believe that creativity is exclusively associated with youth, but it really depends on what kind of creativity you’re talking about,” 

Bruce Weinberg, Professor Economics, Ohio State University

Conceptual Innovators

Conceptual innovators are generating creativity in fundamentally new ways, they have clear goals, and seek to communicate specific ideas or emotions.

This approach tends to peak early and most of the groundbreaking work from conceptual innovators happens early in their careers.

Experimental Innovators

The experimental innovator has much more of a trial and error approach, learning from mistakes and failure along the way. As such do much of their best work as they get older.

The researchers from Ohio University determined that the age where experimental innovators made their most important contributions was normally in their mid fifties, which is double the average age of conceptual innovators.

“They hope their work will chip away at the world’s favoritism for precocious geniuses and its disdain of the creativity that comes with age”

Key Takeaways

  • There are two different types of Creative Thinking – Conceptual and Experimental
  • Conceptual Creativity or Innovation is normally generated early in the career before life and career norms impact creativity and slow the growth mindset.
  • Experimental Creativity or Innovation is strongest because of a career or learning and benefits from mistakes and failures along the way. It uses the growth mindset to keep exploring on opportunities.
  • So creativity can peak when you are in your twenties or when you are in your fifties.
Synopsis of an article from Quartz
IT AIN'T OVER YET, KID, The two types of creativity that peak at different ages
by Ephrat Livni
Published 28th April 2019

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