Improvisation Facilitates Divergent Thinking and Creativity: Realizing a Benefit of Primary School Arts Education

Sowden, Paul, Clements, Lucie, Redlich, Chrishelle and Lewis, Carine (2015) Improvisation Facilitates Divergent Thinking and Creativity: Realizing a Benefit of Primary School Arts Education. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9 (2). pp. 128-138. ISSN 1931-3896

Text (©American Psychological Association, 2015. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal.)
Improv in education accepted.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (436kB) | Preview


The benefit of arts education for cultural engagement, wider academic achievement, and as a contributor to the creative economy is a subject of significant debate. In the present work, we focus on the potential for simple, arts-based improvisation activities to enhance divergent thinking skills and creativity in primary school-age children. In the first experiment, we compare the effect of children taking part in an improvised versus nonimprovised dance class on their subsequent performance on the Instances Task (Wallach & Kogan, 1965) and on a creative “toy” design task. In a second experiment, children took part in verbal and acting improvisation games or in matched control games before completing figural activity 1 of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT; Torrance, 1974). In both experiments, we found that children who took part in the improvisation interventions showed better divergent thinking and creativity after the intervention. Our findings suggest that simple, arts-based improvisation interventions could have domain-general benefits for creative cognition processes. Furthermore, they indicate one way in which simply making better use of existing arts education provision could provide a cost-effective way to increase creativity-relevant skills in primary schoolchildren. We consider putative mechanisms for the improvisation effects and specify directions for future work.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Improvisation, Creativity, Divergent Thinking, Arts, Education, Culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Departments > Psychology and Counselling
Depositing User: Lucie Clements
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2019 10:21
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2019 10:21

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item