The relation between semantic memory structure, associative abilities, and verbal and figural creativity

Li He, Yoed N. Kenett, Kaixiang Zhuang, Cheng Liu, Rongcan Zeng, Tingrui Yan, Tengbin Huo, Jiang Qiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research has independently highlighted the roles of semantic memory and associative abilities in creative thinking. However, it remains unclear how these two capacities relate to each other, nor how they facilitate different creative thinking modalities, such as verbal and figural creativity. This study employed multiple cognitive tests and network science methodologies to shed light on the relationship between them. We constructed individual-based semantic networks and assessed associative abilities, verbal and figural creative thinking. In line with previous studies, we found a relation between verbal creativity and more flexible semantic memory structure (higher connectivity, shorter distances between concepts, and lower modularity). However, we did not find any such relation between figural creativity and semantic memory structure. Associative abilities mediated the relationship between semantic memory structure and verbal creativity, implying the efficient spread of information in semantic memory may facilitate verbal creative thinking via associative abilities. These findings support and extend the associative theory of creativity and shed novel light on the relationship between semantic memory structure, associative abilities, and creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-293
Number of pages26
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Funding

This research was supported by the Innovative Research Project for Postgraduate Student of Chongqing (CYB20081), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31771231), Chang Jiang Scholars Program (Q2017173), Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (cstc2019jcyj-msxmX0520), Social Science Planning Project of Chongqing (2018PY80) and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWU119007), National Outstanding Young People Plan, Chongqing Talent Program.

FundersFunder number
Chongqing Talent Program
Innovative Research Project for Postgraduate Student of ChongqingCYB20081
National Outstanding Young People Plan
Social Science Planning Project of Chongqing2018PY80
National Natural Science Foundation of China31771231
Natural Science Foundation of Chongqingcstc2019jcyj-msxmX0520
Changjiang Scholar Program of Chinese Ministry of EducationQ2017173
Fundamental Research Funds for the Central UniversitiesSWU119007

    Keywords

    • Creativity
    • divergent thinking
    • free associations
    • network science
    • semantic memory structure
    • word2vec

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