ADHD may make you better at creative thinking
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is tied to numerous debilitating and frustrating symptoms that can have huge implications for a person’s life. However, new research published in the Journal of Creative Behavior suggests there may be one potential upside to the mental illness.
Dr. Holly White, a researcher at the University of Michigan Department of Psychology claims that ADHD may make individuals more inclined to resist conformity and find uncommon methods of accomplishing tasks, making them particularly suited to fields such as marketing, product design, and computer engineering.
The finding comes from a study which compared a group of college kids diagnosed with ADHD to those without the disorder when conducting tasks of creativity.
Specifically, the participants were asked to complete an imagination-based task referred to as the “alien fruit” invention task, which asks individuals to create an example of a fictional fruit that might exist on another planet and is unique to fruit existing on earth.
While those without ADHD largely designed their creations based on fruit found on earth, such as an apple or strawberry, those with the disorder tended to create imagined fruits that were almost entirely unlike anything on Earth.
In a second task, the participants were then asked to create labels for their products in three categories which were unique from the examples provided. Again, those without ADHD tended to choose options that were strongly similar to the examples provided. On the other hand, those diagnosed with ADHD were more likely to select labels that were significantly more unique.
According to White, these results indicate that people with ADHD may potentially show more flexibility in tasks reliant on new ideas without relying on existing knowledge or examples.
“As a result, the creative products of individuals with ADHD may be more innovative, relative to creations of non-ADHD peers,” she said.
White also suggests this may make individuals with ADHD less likely to experience “design fixation”, which is described as the tendency to get stuck in a creative rut or stick closely to ideas or products that already exist.
“This has implications for creative design and problem-solving in the real world, when the goal is to create or invent something new without being overly constrained by old models or ways of doing things,” she said.