The distractibility and impulsiveness that is the hallmark of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a silver lining, according to a new study that suggests those with the disorder are more creative than those without.
Researchers gave 60 college students, half with ADHD, a series of tests measuring creativity across 10 domains -- drama, music, humor, creative writing, invention, visual arts, scientific discovery, dance, architecture and culinary arts. The students also answered questions about their problem-solving styles, including preferences for generating, structuring, refining and implementing ideas.
The ADHD group scored higher on creativity across the board, the study authors said, and also exhibited a greater preference for brainstorming and generating ideas than the non-ADHD group, which preferred refining and clarifying ideas.
The study, a follow-up to one conducted in 2006, is published in the April issue of Personality and Individual Differences.
"Personality traits like stubbornness could be seen as a negative thing or it could be seen as a strength . . . and I think it's similar with distraction," said study author Holly A. White, an assistant professor of psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. "But it can also mean they're open to a lot of new ideas coming in. It allows for collisions of ideas we otherwise might not see."
ADHD, affecting approximately 5 percent of American youths, is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, disorganization and difficulty focusing, among other traits. The condition persists into adulthood in 30 percent to 50 percent of those affected.