CREATIVITY EXERCISE #2: Alternative Uses Test

If you do the same thing over and over again, day in, day out this becomes a boring exercise. Doing variations of the same activities makes it exciting again and gives you new energy and new insights.

In 1967 JP Guilford created the “Alternative Uses Test” (also known as a divergent thinking test) which basically is an creativity exercise to help you activate your brain to think outside of the box. For this test you will need a simple object and think of as many uses as possible for this object. It can be as simple as something on your desk like a pen, a ruler or your drinking bottle. Take a limited amount of time and come up with as many alternative uses for the object as possible.

Let’s make an example and take the pen as example. So what can we use the pen for other than writing?

  • Backscratcher
  • Door holder
  • Toothpick
  • Ear scratcher (I don’t recommend this option though)
  • … keep the list going for the remaining time.

It doesn’t matter if the idea is crazy as long as it is feasable.

There are 4 things this test looks at:

  1. The amount of alternative uses found;
  2. How original the alternative is which is a test of how different you can think
  3. The range of the idea’s. Are they all in the same type of uses or are they completely different
  4. The amount of details for the use of the idea

Take the Test

So now it is time for you to do the test yourself. Don’t hesitate, look around you for a simple object. Set the timer of your phone at 2 minutes count down and start writing/typing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *