The textbook authors provide a brief overview of creativity in later adulthood, but there is much more to expand upon! According to classic research by Simonton (1988), creative contributions in literature, science, math, music, and other areas decline with age. His data show that the peak of creativity depends, in part, on the amount of training required in a field. For example, creative production is at its highest in the 20s and early 30s for poetry, while creativity peaks in the 40s for philosophy and medicine, fields in which greater training is required. In all fields studied by Simonton, creative production drops significantly after these midlife peaks. You might want to share his instructive graphs with your class. To build upon Simonton’s view of the average by sharing information, Gardner (1993) conducted a careful examination of six highly accomplished individuals across their lifespan. While it may often be true that creativity is the province of midlife, he found that there are great individual variations in this pattern. Not only can these examples be used to demonstrate how creative accomplishments develop over a lifetime, but they help answer some interesting questions about the factors that lead to and sustain creative production. For instance, Picasso produced an average of one painting a day during his entire life, until his death at 91. Clearly, age is not a barrier to creativity. In your post, discuss how creativity can be encouraged throughout the lifespan, why encouraging creativity may be valuable in later adulthood, and the biopsychosocial forces that underlie changes in creativity over the lifespan.
Gardner, H. (1993). Creating Minds. New York: Basic Books.
Simonton, D. (1988). Age and outstanding achievement: What do we know after a century of research? Psychological Bulletin,104, 251-267.
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