Psychologists at Goldsmiths University are developing an app designed to improve imagination and stimulate creativity.
The team will use new psychometric tests to develop an iPhone application that can evaluate a person’s Imagination Quotient or imQ. The app will include daily training exercises to strengthen creativity and will be of particular use to artists and writers.
As part of the research the university will test 400 people, a mix of students and retail business sector workers, to check how quickly they respond to stimuli.
Dr Sophie von Stumm, who is heading up the project at Goldsmiths, said: “We will develop new psychometric tests to assess imagination and then validate them in several studies.
“We will find ways to improve imagination that everybody can use. We will then develop the application that will be freely available with exercises and tips for enhancing imagination.”
Imagination is usually defined as the creation of mental representations of images, sensations and concepts that are not perceived at the same time by the senses. Despite playing a key role in psychological development, imagination is still not well understood, said Dr von Stumm.
She added that there are few ways to measure it and little is known about what impact it actually has. For the university’s study, genetic and environmental influences on imagination will also be investigated by comparing identical and non-identical twins.
“This will be the greatest contribution of our project to society, because imagination is at the core of our everyday thinking and behaviour,” added Dr von Stumm.
Her team will also look at how imagination is related to intelligence and personality and the way it affects behaviour, the acquisition of knowledge as well as academic achievement.
Building the app is part of a two-year project that is being funded by the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and supported by the John Templeton Foundation.
Christopher Stawski, vice president of strategic program initiatives at the Foundation said: “Many might think imagination can’t be measured. But by supporting this ambitious scientific research program, we hope to better understand how to encourage and cultivate the imaginative capacities of individuals and society to increase human potential and flourishing.”