Effects of creativity on social and behavioral adjustment in 7- to 11-year-old children

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019 Feb;1438(1):30-39. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13944. Epub 2018 Aug 5.


This study sought to explore whether creativity in undertaking activities such as free writing, telling a story, crafts, painting, drawing, or drama at age 7 is associated with a lower risk of social and behavioral maladjustment in children at the onset of adolescence. Data from 7558 7-year-olds who were socially and behaviorally "stable" at baseline were analyzed from the nationally representative National Child Development Study. Multinomial regression analyses showed associations between teacher-rated creativity at age 7 and a lower relative risk of social and behavioral instability and maladjustment at age 11. Specifically, the associations were found between moderate and marked creativity and a lower risk of symptoms of internalizing behaviors (including depression and withdrawal), externalizing behaviors (such as restlessness) as well as a lower risk of various nervous symptoms of social and behavioral instability and maladjustment. Associations were independent of social, demographic, educational, parental, academic, and personality covariates, and robust to a range of sensitivity analyses. These results suggest that facilitating engagement with creative activities could be explored further as a way of reducing levels of instability and maladjustment at the onset of adolescence.

Keywords: behavioral adjustment; children; creativity; depression; maladjustment; social adjustment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Creativity*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mood Disorders / prevention & control
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Social Adjustment*