People with ADHD have trouble directing their attention. Because of this, they often notice things other people don’t. This can lead to strange associations. People with ADHD also tend to be highly passionate about something and tend to focus more on it than most people. This is another reason why ADHD and creativity go hand in hand.
In this article, we’re going to look at the link between ADHD and creativity. We will look at how ADHD might make people more creative, and in what areas of artistic creation they are more likely to excel.
Does ADHD make you creative?
The answer to the question, “Does ADHD make you creative?” depends on the person. For example, people with ADHD tend to have more creative ideas than people without ADHD. They can sidestep the conventional thinking process and use their creativity to solve problems. In addition, people with ADHD tend to be more impulsive, which can result in greater creative output.
One study found that individuals with ADHD have higher creative abilities in the mechanical/scientific, artistic, and performance domains. However, enhanced performance during the early stages of creative problem solving may not be sufficient to predict increased real-world creativity. ADHD participants were more likely to choose fewer original and useful problem reconstructions than non-ADHD individuals. Moreover, subjects with ADHD showed lower levels of self-esteem.
Another study looked at the creativity levels of adults with ADHD and those without. In this study, participants were asked to come up with novel uses for a set of objects. Participants with ADHD and those without ADHD generated about the same number of ideas. Their creativeness wasn’t affected by their medication, but those with ADHD were more likely to generate ideas if they were rewarded with a bonus. This suggests that rewards and competition may be beneficial motivational factors.
How would an ADHD brain be more creative?
ADHD patients often have a distinct advantage when it comes to tasks that require creative thinking. They have trouble holding themselves back, and their mind wanders, which often results in a new idea. This type of creativity is not limited to cognitive thinking, but can also include a more artistic side.
Many studies have found that ADHD patients can be extremely creative. They have the ability to create works of art and invent new products. In addition to this, people with ADHD are often hyper-focused. They may work on assignments without noticing that they’re doing it, and it may even be possible for them to do so in a shorter time.
Researchers have also found that people with ADHD are better at creative cognition, a set of mental processes that promote divergent thinking, conceptual expansion, and overcoming knowledge constraints. In a recent study published in the Journal of Creative Behaviour, ADHD participants were asked to think up names for an alien fruit, and the results showed that their alien fruit and product names were much more creative than those produced by control subjects.
Dopamine and creativity
In a new study, researchers have found a link between dopamine and creativity. They found that patients treated with dopaminergic drugs had enhanced verbal and visual creativity. These effects were independent of the patients’ ICD diagnosis. The researchers suggest that dopaminergic drugs act by reducing latent inhibition. This may result in enhanced divergent thinking.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has many functions. In particular, it is linked to divergent and convergent thinking. The level of dopamine in the brain is related to individual performance. In the study, individuals with a higher EBR had greater divergent thinking than those with lower EBR.
Dopamine is important for creativity. High levels of the chemical improve attention switching, which is essential for successful creative performance. However, too much dopamine can impair cognitive functions like working memory, critical thinking, and reflection. It is also known to affect mood and motivation.
Are ADHD people more imaginative?
A recent study reveals that people with ADHD are especially good at creative cognition, a set of mental processes that involves divergent thinking, conceptual expansion, and overcoming knowledge constraints. For example, researchers asked participants to imagine an alien fruit, then had them come up with a product name. The results indicated that ADHD participants were more creative than control subjects, producing alien fruit that diverged further from earthly fruits and conformed less to task examples.
The researchers found that people with ADHD reported higher levels of creativity in the artistic, mechanical/scientific, and performance domains. However, the results are not conclusive because the creative abilities reported by ADHD patients are based on self-reports. Furthermore, the subjective judgment of creativity is influenced by the participant’s self-esteem, which is usually low in people with ADHD. Despite the findings, people with ADHD are still often considered to be more creative and innovative than the average person.
While creative abilities vary among ADHD people, the research has consistently demonstrated that these individuals have a unique talent for innovation. Many successful entrepreneurs and other high-profile creatives have ADHD. Examples include Jamie Oliver and Richard Branson. Branson, the founder of Virgin, and Oliver, the world-famous chef.
ADHD, Art and Creativity: What does the scientific research say?
In one large-scale meta-analysis, 31 studies were reviewed on ADHD and creativity. This is defined as the ability of generating new and useful ideas. Previous research has suggested that ADHD is associated with creativity. The studies reviewed examined three main aspects of creativity: divergent thinking, which refers to imagining many different potential solutions to one problem with different possible solutions; convergent thinking, which refers to more formalized problem-solving processes, such as following sets of rules or instructions and finding the best answer to the problem; and finally, regular, everyday creative thinking or activities.
Of those 31 studies, twenty-two studies looked at both ADHD and divergent thinking. Studies with children showed that divergent thinking was associated with ADHD symptoms, but not those diagnosed with ADHD. Research with adults was mixed with some showing higher divergent thinking in ADHD patients, while others did not show any differences. Six studies were reviewed to assess ADHD and convergent thought. Results showed either no improvement in creativity for ADHD children or negative results for ADHD adults. In addition, six studies of everyday creative abilities and creative achievement in people with ADHD were analyzed.The majority of these studies showed a clear positive correlation between ADHD and creative achievements in daily life for adults.
The review shows that ADHD symptoms may be more severe in those with divergent thought than in those with ADHD. This suggests that ADHD-related impairments may be worsened by divergent thinking. This review shows that ADHD is not related to convergent thought and that individuals with ADHD may be more creative in real life. There were only a few studies included in the paper, and most of them had small sample sizes. Future research will require larger study samples and comparable measures to measure creativity across studies.
Studies in the past have not found a link between creativity, ADHD, or any other mental disorders. Two studies were presented in this paper that looked at motivation as a possibility to explain the mixed results.
The first study involved 71 participants with ADHD completing an activity that required them to generate ideas (think of new ways to use a newspaper and fork), a task that required them construct a problem (read about a problem and define it), and a questionnaire regarding creative accomplishments in daily life. Participants with ADHD had greater real-life achievements than those without ADHD, but they did not perform better on the tasks. Individuals with ADHD had greater motivation, but their motivation levels were not different between the two groups.
Researchers examined whether people with ADHD performed better in creativity tasks that offered a chance to win a reward and whether creativity levels varied depending on what area was being measured. 45 participants with ADHD and 44 without ADHD participated in a divergent thinking task. This task required them to think of new uses for towels, books, tin cans, belts, and sometimes it was competitive for a reward. Participants also completed a questionnaire measuring creativity in five different areas: artistic, mechanical/scientific, performance, scholarly, and self/everyday.
Research showed that ADHD adults were more creative when they had to compete for a reward than those without ADHD. For those with ADHD, creativity was not affected by the competitive nature of the task. Compared to those without ADHD, individuals with ADHD also reported being more creative in the specific areas of mechanical and scientific creativity.
These findings show that ADHD adults are more creative and have higher motivation to win rewards. It is possible that ADHD individuals may also be more creative in their everyday lives. Results suggest that ADHD adults may be more creative in real-world areas they enjoy, which could be more rewarding for them as a result.
Conclusion: Does ADHD make people more creative?
Are people with ADHD more creative?
The simple answer to this question is no, ADHD itself does not necessarily make people more creative. However, there are ways that ADHD may foster original, creative ways of thinking and promote the kind of artistic expression we associate with creative genius.
The fact of the matter is, ADHD changes the way the brain joins thoughts together. A distracted, wandering mind is not a productive one, but it can be a creative one. In the right context, and importantly if the person is interested in an idea or problem, ADHD can be a huge boon for creativity.
DW Zaidel is a leading expert in the fields of neuroscience and cognitive psychology. She is particularly respected as a researcher in the field of expressive therapies and their relationship with both cognitive performance and mental health. She has written extensively on the way art and the brain interact, as well as on how cognitive performance can be enhanced through the use of expressive therapies. You can find her published work on her Google scholar profile.