IQ and Creativity in the Big Brother House

There is this common notion of “intelligence” as a largely inherited talent that can be assessed in one hour interview.
Do you know your Intelligence Quotient (IQ)? I don’t.
In fact, I’m terrified by IQ tests.

You see, those tests may well find out that I’m an idiot, or at least, that I’m not that sharp.
No thanks, in this case I’d rather be a smart coward and influence my destiny in complete ignorance. After all, I can still be “imperfect” and yet make a difference in this world.

Edward de Bono, one of the leading business creativity experts, likes to describe intelligence as the horsepower of a car, our potential. The skill of thinking is then the skill of the driver. A poor driver on a powerful car can still be outperformed by a skilled driver on a humble car.
We may not all have the same IQ, but we can certainly learn to become skilled thinkers.
If I could only remember where I left my car keys ๐Ÿ˜‰

The irony is that highly intelligent people may fall in what Edward calls the intelligence trap: for example, they may be unwilling to take risks for fear of not being right all the time. Or they may be so good at supporting and “sell” their own point of view that they may never find a need for seeking potentially better alternatives. Ouch!
As the French philosopher Alain (ร‰mile Chartier) once said:

Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one you have.

I recently found some evidence that IQ and creativity are different in the most unlikely of all places: the Big Brother House (BB8 UK).
Uh? Big Brother? Well, I confess. I usually don’t watch these programs, but this year I’m hooked. The best part is shown on Sunday evening, when a group of psychologists display the result of their weekly experiments on the contestants.

A few weeks ago, Big Brother called each housemate in the diary room and presented them with a simple task. Within one minute, they had to identify things you can and can’t do with a paper clip.
Each of the housemates came up with a bunch of ideas; it was certainly interesting to observe how the constraints of the environment and their condition greatly influenced the answers they gave.

But when 20-years old Brian entered the room, something unexpected happened.

Poorly educated, gullible, goofy and – by his own admission – not one of the brightest people around, Brian quickly identified a rather impressive number of ideas and easily outperformed all his housemates.

As the experts indicated, within the given time constraints, he gave proof of excellent:

  • Fluency: the number of meaningful ideas generated
  • Flexibility: the number of different categories of relevant responses
  • Originality: the statistical rarity of the responses
  • Elaboration: the amount of detail in the responses

In conclusion:

  • Don’t envy others for their intelligence, because you can be (at least) as creative and as they are.
  • Explore the world with a fresh perspective and you’ll soon see things others can’t see.

Along the way, you’ll pick up some serious thinking tools to help boosting your potential.
Like a blacksmith, I’m hand forging those tools for you.
The first one is almost ready, and I’ll hand it to you in my next post!

Claudio Perrone

My passion is to develop the critical thinking skills of people and help them bring the best of their work to the world. Lean & Agile management consultant, startup strategist, award-winning speaker and entrepreneur. Creative force behind A3 Thinker and PopcornFlow.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Available for Panto

    I love it when someone a bit intellectual picks up on Big Brother and offers a fresh, insightful view without getting all high-horse about it. Claudio Perrone writes about how IQ and creativity do not always come in equal packages…

  2. Col

    Interesting stuff. Last Sunday the psychologists explained that another supposedly ditzy housemate, Sam, did badly in thinking up things you can’t do with a paperclip because her creativity was such that she felt it was possible to do almost anything with one!

  3. Claudio Perrone

    Yes Colin, I’ve seen that! I was a bit surprised by their analysis actually. Yet it is an interesting thought: can you be so creative that you can have hard time identifying impossible uses for something? I would agree if she was so fluent on identifying possible uses…but was she?
    In any case, I always find very interesting to explicitly state the impossible, or, at least, to reverse the constraints that we think we have when solving a particular problem. It’s like fishing for new ideas…With second (or third) thoughts, often the “impossible” turns to be viable and original!

  4. Alberto

    Ma sei o non sei il vecchio siepista che doveva scrivere il pezzo del secolo?
    Ascoltavo ieri i Led Zeppelin e mi sei venuto in mente!!!

  5. Claudio Perrone

    Eila’ Alberto quanto tempo, ma certo che sono io! Il pezzo del secolo evidentemente non l’ho scritto, pero’ le belle soddisfazioni qui in Irlanda non mi sono mancate. A questo punto avrai quasi cent’anni anche tu immagino ๐Ÿ™‚

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