The HKBU Department of Physics and Institute of Creativity joined the collaborators from Germany to organise a public lecture entitled “Promoting creativity measurement at the level of brain and behavior” on 31 July.

Distinguished speakers, Professor Oliver Wilhelm of the Department of Psychological and Pedagogy of the Ulm University, Germany, and Professor Patrick C Kyllonen, Distinguished Presidential Appointee of the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, USA shared their insights into the nature and the scientific definition of creativity, its measurement and the available research on the interventions’ success to enhance creativity by training.


Professor Wilhelm used the quote by renowned painter Pablo Picasso “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” as the title of his sharing. He said that prior knowledge, cognitive capacity and retrieval abilities are necessary prerequisites of creativity, which further benefits from unusual mental combinations and involves producing multiple different responses based on the information made available by knowledge. Thus, creativity rests upon generating associative nets by which it alters the shape of information into unexpected forms. Withal, the novelty and usefulness of the response are essential aspects of evaluating the creativity of a cognitive outcome.


Professor Kyllonen shared on “idea generation is the essence of creativity”. He examined and discussed ways how scientific institutions like the Educational Testing Service in the USA can monitor to what degree schools are doing to simulate students’ creativity. He said that hundred years of psychometric research suggests that creativity is best measured with idea generation tests, which involve generating multiple ideas, hypotheses, or solutions to problems. He also reviewed a series of studies conducted at the Educational Testing Service, the leading Institution of assessing academic achievement in the USA. These studies provided evidence for the value of creativity measures in predicting success in secondary and post-secondary education as well as in the workplace.


HKBU Department of Physics Associate Professor Dr Zhou Changsong, who is one of the organisers of this lecture, said that the speakers clarified many concepts about the definition and measurement of creativity and its relationship to other human cognitive abilities and provided encouraging scientific evidence that it is feasible to stimulate creativity through training.


The overseas collaborators included Professor Andrea Hildebrandt, Department of Psychology of the Greifswald University, and Professor Werner Sommer, Department of Psychology of the Humboldt University, Berlin.


In addition, the group held the Germany-Hong Kong joint interdisciplinary scientific workshop on brain signal variability from 31 July to 2 August. In the workshop, more than 25 young scientists and scholars from Germany, Japan, USA, Mainland China and Hong Kong, presented their research about complex brain signals, their genetic determinants and relevance for cognition and creativity.


The lecture is sponsored by the Hung Hin Shiu Charitable Foundation.