Breaking Bad: Creativity and Organic Chemistry

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Is there such a thing as a “creative person”? The literature on creativity has focused on this question for several decades now, but a clear answer has yet to be provided. On the one hand, some researchers have argued for domain generality within the broad umbrella of “creative activities,” which posits that creative people do indeed exist: that people’s creative talents (or lack thereof) are consistent across all domains of creativity (e.g., painting, problem-solving, music composition, poetry writing). On the other hand, some researchers have maintained that there is no such thing as a creative person, but that people’s creative abilities are instead limited to a particular domain of creative activities (e.g., an individual may be a very creative visual artist, but this talent does not transfer to other domains, such as music composition). While there has been a longstanding debate about the nature of domain-general vs. domain-specific creative talents, whether creativity is domain-general vs. specific remains unclear. To contribute to this ongoing debate, here, I designed a domain-specific measure of creativity for organic chemistry (the Divergent Skeletal Formula Task [DSFT]) and investigated the possible relationships among the DSFT and two widely used domain-general measures of creativity. Results demonstrated no significant relationship between the DSFT and the domain-general measures of creativity, thereby providing further support for a domain-specific view of creativity.





Blue, Michael Connor (2023). Breaking Bad: Creativity and Organic Chemistry. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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