ADHD, Often Presented As A Problem, Is Now Linked To Profound Creativity
Over the past decade, researchers have studied the potential advantages of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD, a neurological disorder characterized by distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, is often associated with negative outcomes in academics, career opportunities, and relationships.
But experts think that individuals with ADHD have a greater ability to think more creatively. A 2006 paper found that people with ADHD perform exceptionally well on tasks involving divergent thinking, or the ability to brainstorm many ideas from a single starting point. A recent study showed that college students with ADHD had better scores on two tasks that involved conceptual expansion and the ability to overcome knowledge constraints. In the first task, lead researcher Holly A. White instructed participants to imagine that they were advertising agency representatives whose job was to invent names for new products in different categories.
“For each category, six examples were provided that shared certain endings (e.g., pain relievers ending in –ol, such as Midol, Tylenol, and Panadol),” White wrote in an article for Scientific American. “I then instructed participants to invent a name for a new product in each category without using any aspects of the examples provided.”
The second task instructed participants to be as original as possible in creating a fruit that may exist on an alien planet very different from Earth.
White found that “the ADHD students were less constrained by task examples on the product label invention task; compared to non-ADHD peers, ADHD students were less likely to include the example endings, yet invented labels that were equally descriptive of the product category.” In the alien fruit task, students with ADHD were much more creative and original than their peers.