Creativity and two modes of associative fluency: Chains and stars1


  • 1

    This paper is based on a Ph.D. thesis submitted by the author to the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. I thank Prof. S. Breznitz and Prof. S. Kugelmass, who supervised the work. I am especially grateful to Dr. A Koriat and Dr. A. Goor for their thorough criticism of an earlier manuscript and to Ms. Susan Schmidt for her help in editing the final version. This work was partially supported by the Research Fund of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Hebrew University, and the Research Fund of Ben Gurion University.


The relationship between creativity and associative fluency was reexamined in light of a proposed distinction between two modes of associative fluency, chains and stars. Chained associations were defined as a series of responses, each related to the preceding one, and star associations as a series of responses, all of which are focused on the original stimulus word. An analysis of the continuous associations produced orally by 96 university students in response to a single presentation of a stimulus word indicated that they produced associations of both types interchangeably. Chain and star fluency were found to be inversely correlated at a low order, suggesting that they are two distinct associative modes. As expected, chain fluency was highly related to creativity, as measured by a Hebrew version of Mednick's Remote Associates Test while star fluency was unrelated to it. The findings were discussed in terms of Wallach's (1970) notion of attention deployment, and directions for future research were suggested.