Are people with ADHD really more creative than the rest of us?

adhd and creativity
Image: Fast Brain

Those affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are clinically thought of as inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. However, people with ADHD are also perceived as being very spontaneous, curious, inquisitive, enthusiastic, lively and witty, a perception that creates an impression they are more creative than those without ADHD. But is there truth to this idea?

In a study, detailed in the Journal of Creative Behavior, researchers asked 26 college students with ADHD and 26 without ADHD to perform two creativity tests. The first involved inventing and drawing alien fruit without copying those on Earth. Students with ADHD were able to create more unique fruit. Similarly, when asked to invent product labels, those with ADHD were able to come up with less conventional names.

Nonetheless, research into the relationship between ADHD and creativity to date has painted an inconsistent picture, partly due to the fact that it is more difficult to understand creativity using psychological tests than it is to comprehend, say, intelligence. So far though studies that are of higher quality and involve sufficient test subjects do not provide clear evidence that people with ADHD are actually the better lateral thinkers.

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