Divergent Thinking Among Deaf and Hearing Adolescents





Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)




Divergent thinking (DT) is a method of thought that involves devising multiple solutions to a single problem, and is an estimate of creative thinking ability (Runco, 2008). Marschark, Everhart, and Martin (1987) demonstrated that deaf individuals underperform on DT measures as compared to hearing individuals. Divergent thinking was examined in both hearing and deaf populations using a verbal measure (which requires written-word responses) and a figural measure (which requires pictorial responses). The researcher of the current study posited that deaf adolescents ( ages 14 - 18) would perform best on a figural measure of DT and when instructions were in sign language. Participants were randomly assigned to two conditions: 1) to receive instructions via printed text or 2) to receive instructions that were signed (deaf participants) or spoken (hearing participants). Deaf adolescents perform best on a figural measure ofDT when instructions are presented in text. Previous research in other disciplines is consistent with the finding of the current study, but more work is needed in the field ofDT. The findings of this research add to the existing knowledge of written instructions being the best method of assessing deaf adolescents and adults when tasks are figural.

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