In many nations, grades and standardized test scores are used to select students for programs of scientific study. We suggest that the skills that these assessments measure are related to success in science, but only peripherally in comparison with two other skills, scientific creativity and recognition of scientific impact. In three studies, we investigated the roles of scientific creativity and recognition of scientific impact on scientific thinking. The three studies described here together involved 219 students at a selective university in the Northeast U.S. Participants received assessments of scientific creativity and recognition of scientific impact as well as a variety of previously used assessments measuring scientific reasoning (generating alternative hypotheses, generating experiments, drawing conclusions) and the fluid aspect of general intelligence (letter sets, number series). They also provided scores from either or both of two college-admissions tests-the SAT and the ACT-as well as demographic information. Our goal was to determine whether the new tests of scientific impact and scientific creativity correlated and factored with the tests of scientific reasoning, fluid intelligence, both, or neither. We found that our new measures tapped into aspects of scientific reasoning as we previously have studied it, although the factorial composition of the test on recognition of scientific impact is less clear than that of the test of scientific creativity. We also found that participants rated high-impact studies as more scientifically rigorous and practically useful than low-impact studies, but also generally as less creative, probably because their titles/abstracts were seemingly less novel for our participants. Replicated findings across studies included the correlation of Letter Sets with Number Series (both measures of fluid intelligence) and the correlation of Scientific Creativity with Scientific Reasoning.
Keywords: fluid intelligence; intelligence; scientific creativity; scientific impact; scientific reasoning.