Runco, Turkman, Acar, & Nural: DOI: 10.18536/jge.2017.

Jump to: Journal of Genius and Eminence | Volume 2

Idea Density and the Creativity of Written Works

Mark A. Runco
The University of Georgia

Burak Turkman
Istanbul University

Selcuk Acar
Buffalo State, The State University of New York

Mustafa V. Nural
The University of Georgia

Every paradigm shift begins with an idea. Not surprisingly, ideas are often investigated. Still, psychometric studies of the ideation of famous creators is scarce. This is in part because it is difficult, and often impossible, to bring famous creators into the laboratory for testing. Fortunately, there is an alternative. This is to examine the idea density of written products. As it happens, the idea density (ID) of narratives was operationalized by linguists and an objective method (and algorithm) developed. The present investigation used that method to test the possibility that ID (as defined and calculated in linguistics) would also be useful for quantifying the ideation and creativity of high-level performances. In Study 1, the ID of 138 published research articles was calculated and correlated with the citation impact (CI) of the same articles. CI was based on Web of Citation and Google Scholar web sites. Results indicated a small but statistically significant correlation: Articles that had higher ID scores were cited more in the research literature. Study 2 examined the relationship of the level of eminence of 100 historical figures (all writers) with the ID of their published works. Level of eminence had been calculated in previous archival research on reputation and creative achievement. Analyses indicated that ID was significantly correlated with level of creative achievement and with the biographical measure indicating level of eminence. Study 3 did not have high level creative products but was informative in that it demonstrated a significant correlation between ID and divergent thinking. In Study 4 one hundred TED Talks were converted into text and their ID calculated. Here, ID was significantly correlated with the number of online “hits” associated with each TED Talk. These four studies suggests that ID is far from redundant with creativity but represents a useful measure of ideation and creative potential, and one that can be used with high-level performances, including published research, citations, and TED Talks. Limitations of the method and the three studies are discussed, as are future research directions.

Runco, M. A., Turkman, B., Acar, S., & Nural, M. V. (2017). Idea density and the creativity of written works. Journal of Genius and Eminence, 2(1), 26-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.18536/jge.2017.