Types: Doctoral thesis
The aims of this thesis were twofold: the first was to develop a reliable and valid measure of the control of mental imagery, second was to explore the links between imagery, creativity and schizotypy. The Image Control and Recognition Task (ICRT) was developed because a reliable and objective measure of mental imagery control was lacking in the field. Two trend analyses (n = 29 and 31) found the tool to effectively measure individual differences in imagery control and the ability to reinterpret mental images. \ud A series of related studies using over 300 participants investigated the construct validity and reliability of the ICRT and found that it provided an accurate measure of both mental imagery control and image recognition, and revealed these to be related, yet distinct dimensions of mental imagery. The tool may be used to indicate abilities on a number of imagery control abilities which appear to be related to enhanced creative performance, such as evocation, rotation, maintenance and transformation. \ud An investigation with 96 psychology students looked into interrelationships between performance-based imagery control (ICRT), self-reported mental imagery abilities (vividness and control) and four dimensions of schizotypy (unusual experiences, cognitive disorganisation, introvertive anhedonia and impulsive nonconformity). A multiple regression found that mental imagery control, unusual experiences and cognitive disorganisation scores together predicted 28% of variance in creativity scores. \ud The final study, which recruited 40 visual artists and 56 psychology students, investigated relationships between mental imagery control, incommodious schizotypal traits, and creative performance as measured by battery of creativity tasks and a self-report measure of creative achievement. Significant differences were revealed between the artist and non-artist groups in their creativity scores, but no significant differences were found between these groups on any index of schizotypy. Independent groups t tests showed that the visual artists had significantly more controlled mental imagery and enhanced recognition abilities when compared to the non-artist group. Multiple linear regression found that mental imagery control and unusual experiences scores, which included associated ratings of distress, distraction, and frequency, both explained variance in levels of creative achievement, suggesting that, together, magical ideation, unusual imaginal and perceptual experiences, and fantasy proneness, as well as the ability to control, manipulate, recombine, reinterpret and “play with” mental images is implicated in achieving “real-world” success in creative domains. Imagery control predicted 8% of the variance in the ability to conceive of conceptually unusual, and strikingly original alien creatures when assessed in experimental settings. The ability to control mental imagery shared predictive power with impulsive nonconformity in generating alternative uses for household objects explaining 10% of the variance. It appears that mental imagery abilities are implicated in creativity as the abilities required to control mental imagery were strongly related to higher performance on measures of divergent thinking, creative strengths, conceptual expansion, and creative achievement. The results support assertions that all constructs are multidimensional and related in differential ways, and tentatively point to the possibility that the associations between unusual experiences, mental imagery and enhanced creative achievement may be explained in terms of controlled and uncontrolled imagery, for indices of unusual experiences may indirectly represent levels of schizotypal imagery.
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- Akiskal, H.S. & Akiskal, K.K. (2007). In Search of Aristotle: Temperament, Human Nature, Melancholia, Creativity, and Eminence. Journal of Affective Disorders. 100, 1-6.
- Daniels-McGhee, S. and Davis, G.A. (1994). The Imagery-Creativity Connection. Journal of Creative Behaviour.28(3), 151-177.
- Irving, L., Barry, R., LeBoutillier, N., & Westley, D. (2011). The Image Control and Recognition Task: A Performance-Based Measure of Imagery Control. Journal of Mental Imagery, 35(3 & 4), 67-80.
- Mason, O, Claridge, G, and Jackson, M. (1995). Personality & Individual Differences. .18, 7-13.
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