Test of Creative Thinking – Drawing Production

Test of Creative Thinking – Drawing Production (TCT-DP) can be seen as an endeavor to apply a more holistic and gestalt-oriented approach to creativity analysis (Urban, 2004). The test designers are concerned not only with divergent and quantitative aspects of creativity but also with its qualitative dimensions (e.g. content, gestalt, composition, elaboration) and other components emphasized in the literature (e.g. risk taking, breaking of boundaries, unconventionality, affection and humor) 

1. TCT-DP Task Description

To reach a broad applicability and optimal culture fairness, creativity was operationalized by means of a drawing production task. The TCT-DP requires the respondent to complete a drawing based on six given figural fragments, which are designed in accordance with the following points: they are (1) different in design, (2) geometric and non-geometric, (3) round and straight, (4) singular and compositional, (5) broken and unbroken, (6) within and outside a (seemingly) given frame, (7) placed irregularly on the space provided, and (8) incomplete. An additional and extremely important element of the device is the “big square frame”. Together with the “small open square” outside the large frame this boundary serves to provide information on risk taking, which was seen by the authors as “boundary breaking in a twofold manner.” The given figural fragments are kept simple and unique to give rise to a multitude of creative responses. At the same time, they must have enough suggestibility to trigger more stereotypical responses from less creative students. The test sheets are collected after completion, the latest after 5 minutes for each drawing.

2. Score Dimensions of the TCT-DP

The following fourteen key criteria constitute as a whole the TCT-DP construct, and also serve as evaluation criteria:

Table 2.5. The Fourteen Key Evaluation Criteria of the TCT-DP (Urban, 2004, pp. 389-390)

Continuations (Cn): Any use, continuation or extension of the six given figural fragmentsCompletion (Cm): Any additions, completions, complements, supplements made to the used, continued or extended figural fragments.New elements (Ne): Any new figure, symbol or element.

Connections made with a line (CI) between one figural garment or figure and another

Connections made to produce a theme (Cth): Any figure contributing to a compositional theme of gestalt

Boundary breaking that is fragment dependent (Bfd): Any use, continuation or extension of the “small open square” located outside the square frame.

Boundary breaking that is fragment (Bfi) from “the small open square” located outside the square frame.

Perspective (Pe): Any breaking away from two-dimentionality

Humor and affectivity (Hu): Any drawing which elicits a humorous response, show affection, emotion, or strong expressive power.

Unconventionality, a (Uc, a): Any manipulation of the material;

Unconventionality, b (Uc, b): Any surrealistic, fictional and/or abstract elements or drawings;

Unconventionality, c (Uc, d): Any usage of symbols or signs;

Unconventionality, d (Uc, d): Unconventionality use of given fragments.

Speed (Sp): Abreakdown of points, beyond a certain score-limit, according to the time spent on the drawing production.

The test constructors believe that the fourteen key criteria cannot stand as single entities and a certain score on a single criterion says nothing about creativity. “Only as interacting factors do they together reflect a holistic concept of creative thought” (Urban, 2004, p. 390). Thus, only the total score for all criteria indicates the value of the creative product.

Figure 2.2. TCT-DP: Two Drawing Productions and their Scores  (Urban, 2004, p. 391)


3. Technical Issues of the TCT-DP

Test Norms

Norms for German students from age 4 to 16 or from kindergarten and grade one to grade 10 have been   established by means of a large norm sample (N=2.500), differentiated as to age, grade, type of school. The findings show that the TCT-DP up to the age of 11/12. i.e. grade 5/6, is a developmental test; after  that age a kind of plateau begins.

Norms are also established in Poland, Korea, and Australia.


In various studies, the interrater reliability mostly was found to be above r = .87. The parallel test reliability from r =  .62 to r = .70 is less satisfying.


Discriminant validity of the test has been supported by various studies showing a low relationship between the test scores and scores on measures of academic achievement and IQ. Moreover, the correlations between the test scores and scores on other pure quantitative creativity measures or verbally divergent thinking tests are higher but still low positive.

The TCT-DP has been adapted and carried out in different Asian cultural contexts. Chae (2003) and Rudowicz (2004) showed that the psychometric properties of the TCT-DP for Korean preschool children and Hong Kong adolescents are comparable to those obtained from equivalent European samples.

The test designers also believe the embedment of risk taking, unconventionality, and imagination in the creativity construct might contribute to the culture fair identification of potential knowledge producers because “knowledge production is not only an intelligent act, but also an act of risk taking, unconventionality, and imagination” (Urban, 2004, p. 392).

A special note by the authors of the test is that during the first investigation with four groups of seven graders from different academic achievement levels, for the students with the highest scores in each group, additional data, including teacher interviews, revealed strikingly non-conforming behavior and some sort of socio-emotional maladjustment. The students’ high scores on the test made the teachers change their attitude: “the teachers saw their students with other eyes and no longer considered their deviant behavior as totally negative” (Urban, 2004,  p. 391). That information is important for an educational application of the test.


* This entry is a summary/ shortened version of Urban (2004).

Urban, K. K. (2004). Assessing creativity: the test for creative thinking – drawing production (TCT-DP) the concept, application, evaluation and international studiesPsychology Science46, 387-397.


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