Two-year-olds box clever by showing creative thinking in test

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CHILDREN as young as two are capable of being creative thinkers, researchers in Yorkshire claim.

Psychologists at Sheffield and Stirling universities say that as early as 24 months, toddlers have the ability to look for new ideas.

In a joint study to find out when children begin thinking divergently, youngsters were given a colourful box with a hole, stairs, ledges and strings, along with novel objects to play with.

The toddlers were encouraged to play with the box, with no prior demonstration, and divergent thinking, a form of creativity which involves generating ideas, was measured through the number of actions they carried out with the box and objects.

Elena Hoicka, from Sheffield’s department of psychology, said: “This research allows us to gain insight into the early emergence of divergent thinking which is crucial for understanding how creativity originates. We are now collecting more data with infants as young as 10 months to further examine how young we can use the test.”

Colleague Simone Bijvoet-van den Berg added: “In future, this research will be useful to determine which factors contribute to the early development of creativity, such as memory or social interaction.”

Toddlers as young as two were shown to be capable of thinking of creative and original ways of playing with the box and the objects, including a feather, egg holder and spatula, all of which they had never seen before.

Previous tests have been speaking-based, only allowing scientists to study children from the age of three onwards. The unusual box test is thought to be the first capable of measuring divergent thinking in younger children.