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Divergent thinking in Italian elementary school children: the key role of probabilistic reasoning style


Divergent thinking is widely recognised as an individual creative potential and an essential factor in fostering creativity since the early stages of life. Albeit previous research revealed that creativity could be pursued through controlled mental processes (e.g. reasoning), the debate about the impact of children’s reasoning on divergent thinking and, ultimately, creativity is still open. The present study sought to deepen the relationships between probabilistic reasoning and divergent thinking in a sample of 106 Italian children (meanage = 8.64, SDage = 1.34; 58 F). The Beads Task was used to evaluate probabilistic reasoning, whereas the Alternative Uses Task was administered to assess divergent thinking. Results revealed that analytical, slow, and effortful forms of thought underpinned by high probabilistic competencies predict children’s divergent production. These findings suggest that a higher score for divergence of thinking depends on a high involvement of reasoning style, which in this study relies on the ability to make probabilistic decisions in ambiguous situations. Future research directions were discussed.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, upon reasonable request.


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The authors would like to thank all the children who participated in this research and the parents that provided their consent. The authors would also like to thank the two primary schools: “I Circolo Didattico Giuseppe Ungaretti”, in Naples and the “Istituto Comprensivo Raffaele Piria”, in Scilla (Italy).


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sector.

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Correspondence to Marco Giancola.

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Editor: Thomas Lachmann (Technical University Kaiserslautern); Reviewers: Saskia Jaarsveld (Technical University Kaiserslautern) and a second reviewer who prefers to remain anonymous.

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Giancola, M., Palmiero, M., Bocchi, A. et al. Divergent thinking in Italian elementary school children: the key role of probabilistic reasoning style. Cogn Process 23, 637–645 (2022).

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