Creativity and Creative Problem-Solving Tests


Various creativity tests exist. This page aims to give a flavour of a few of them, especially some of the ones which are hard to find in web-based scientific literature archives because they have been developed some time ago and details regarding them can mostly be found in older books.

Wallach-Kogan tests

Michael A. Wallach and Nathan Kogan applied the following battery of tests in their experiments which they detail in the book Modes of Thinking in Young Children (1965). They were aiming to measure the relationship between creativity and intelligence. Some such tests are similar to those applied by Guilford, others are more like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, others yet are unique. Wallach and Kogan applied three verbal tests and two visual tests.

Instances test (verbal stimuli)

Wallach and Kogan’s description: “The child is asked to generate possible instances of a class concept that is specified in verbal terms”.


  1. Name all the round things you can think of.
  2. Name all the things you can think of that will make a noise.
  3. Name all the square things you can think of.
  4. Name all the things you can think of that move on wheels.

Examples for make a noise: a car honking, the refrigerator, thunder airplane, cash register, etc.

A modern interpretation of this test is the following: a property is given, and concepts or objects that can have that property are asked for. This test is what is generally referred to in the literature as “the Wallach-Kogan creativity test”, sometimes misspelled to “Wallace-Kogan” or “Wallas-Kogan”.

Alternate Uses (verbal stimuli)

This test is the same as Guildford’s Alternative Uses test. The participant (usually a child in Wallach-Kogan’s experiments) is asked to generate possible uses for a given objects.


  1. Tell me all the different ways you could use a string.
  2. Tell me all the different ways you could use an automobile tire (tube or outer part).
  3. Tell me all the different ways you could use a button – the kind that is used in clothing.
  4. Tell me all the different ways you could use a chair.

Example answers for string: to tie things, jump rope, to sew with, to hang clothes on, etc.

Similarities (verbal stimuli)

The participant has to generate possible similarities between two objects.


  1. Tell me all the ways in which an apple and orange are alike.
  2. Tell me all the ways in which a cat and mouse are alike.
  3. Tell me all the ways in which milk and meat are alike.
  4. Tell me all the ways in which a radio and a telephone are alike.

Example answers for apple and orange: both round, sweet, have seeds, are fruit, grow on trees, have skins, etc.

Pattern Meanings (visual stimuli)

The participant is given a card of an “incomplete” drawing, and asked to make guesses as to what the drawing could be if it was complete. This is similar to the incomplete figures test that is part of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), but somewhat different to Gollin’s incomplete figures test (which is used to measure visual development and long-term memory).

For example, what could this be if the drawing was complete?


According to Wallach and Kogan it could be the rising sun, a porcupine, eyelashes, a brush, a carnation, etc.

Line Meanings (visual stimuli)

The participant is asked to interpret or make guesses at the meaning of a continuous line stimulus. The line meanings tasks was adapted from Tagiuri (1960). The participant is supposed to say what the entire line, not just a part, makes them think of. In the Wallach-Kogan version the lines are presented on cards, which can be turned any way the participant wants.

For example, what does this line make you think of?


Responses to the task can be common or unique. For the example above, Wallach and Kogan mention “mountains” as a common answer, while “a squished piece of paper” as a unique one.

The Remote Associates Test

The Remote Associates Test (Mednick and Mednick, 1971) is a creativity test that aims to measure the ability to use associates to come up with an answer. For each test item, three words, are given, like:


The participant is asked to come up with a fourth word that is an associate of all three – in this case a correct answer would be TABLE.

For our work with the Remote Associates Test, have a look here.


Riddles have been used in the literature to explore creativity and insight. Though no standardized set of riddle stimuli exists, here are a few examples:

  • Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?

  • A box without hinges, key or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. What is it?

The answer to the first is “nothing”. The second riddle is from Tolkien’s Hobbit, and the answer is “egg”.

Insight problems

Various insight problems exist that are used in empirical settings by researchers to investigate creativity. These can be split on multiple categories, depending on the nature of the problem: mathematical, verbal, spatial, practical. Here are a few examples:

The Wine-Water problem 

You are given a glass of wine and a glass of water. They both contain the same volume of liquid. With a spoon, wine is taken from the wine glass and put in the water glass. With the same spoon, liquid is taken from the water glass and put in the wine glass. Which of the glasses contains a purer mix of the specific liquid?

The Four Dots problem (spatial)

Given the following four dots, show how you could join all of them with two straight lines without lifting your pencil from the paper.



Mednick, S. A., and Mednick, M. (1971). Remote associates test: Examiner’s manual. Houghton Mifflin.

Tagiuri, R. (1960). Movement as a cue in person perception (pp. 175-195). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Wallach, M. A., & Kogan, N. (1965). Modes of thinking in young children.