Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Darya L. Zabelina

Committee Member

Leong, Josiah

Second Committee Member

Shields, Grant


creative potential, divergent thinking, cognitive flexibility


A robust finding in creativity research is that during idea generation, later (vs. earlier) responses on a divergent thinking task tend to be more creative, while the number of responses start off quickly, and then slow down over time, termed the serial order effect. Divergent thinking and time may follow a diminishing returns curve, where there is an optimal amount of time that should be spent while generating ideas. Executive functions (inhibition, updating, and shifting) have been associated with divergent thinking, specifically with the idea generation phase, but the effect of individual differences on the temporal dynamics of divergent thinking has not been previously examined. Using spline regressions, I modeled the serial order effect to find the point of diminishing returns and point of maximum yield for fluency and originality in a semantic divergent thinking task. These spline models were used to test individual differences in executive functions on the temporal dynamics of divergent thinking for fluency and originality, as previous research suggests that executive processes may interact with the serial order effect. Results revealed that Updating significantly predicted a higher modeled point of maximum fluency and originality. Shifting also significantly predicted the timing for the modeled point of diminishing returns for originality such that the point of diminishing of originality returns to occur later for individuals with higher shifting ability. Future directions and implications are discussed.