Vol 9, Issue 3, August 2022

A Comparative Test of Creative Thinking in Preschool Children and Dolphins


Melzer, D. K., Yeater, D., Bradley, M., Hill, H. M., Guerra, G., Salazar, K., Bolton, T., & Dudzinski, K. M. (2022). A comparative test of creative thinking in preschool children and dolphins. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(3), 349-362. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Creativity is considered one aspect of intelligence. Including creativity allows for more room for expression (e.g., participants can respond with movement instead of written or verbal responses) than in standard intelligence assessments. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT; Torrance, 1974) are the leading method of assessing creative abilities in school-aged humans and above. To assess creativity in young humans and nonhuman animals, modifications must be made to facilitate nonverbal responses. In the current study, a cross-species comparison was conducted between preschoolers and bottlenose dolphins to examine responses to a modified creativity task in which both species were trained to demonstrate non-repeated behaviors to an “innovate” prompt. The resulting behaviors for the first test session were coded for fluency (number of non-repeated behaviors demonstrated), originality, and flexibility (low, moderate, or high activity level). Children and dolphins produced a similar number of non-repeated behaviors during individual test trials and also had similar originality scores. Related to flexibility, dolphins displayed more low energy activity levels compared to the children. Given the limited understanding of creative abilities in animals and young children, this comparison using a modified version of the TTCT offers exciting possibilities. These results could provide further evidence of similarities in cognitive processes for humans and nonhuman animals.


Creativity reinforcement, Preschool children, Bottlenose dolphins, Adapted Torrance Test