Originality (I. Maltzman)


Irving Maltzman conducted a number of studies that demonstrated that originality could be increased. According to Maltzman, originality refers to behavior that occurs relatively infrequently, is uncommon under given conditions, and is relevant to those co nditions. Maltzman distinquished originality from creativity, the latter refering to the consequences of original behavior (including the reaction of society to the behavior).

Maltzman (1960) describes three methods that can increase original responses: (1) present an uncommon stimulus situation for which conventional responses may not be readily available, (2) evoke different responses to the same situation, and (3) evoke unco mmon responses as textual responses. Maltzman used the latter approach and mentions Osborn (1957) as an example of the first two.

Maltzman's research is distinctive because he was one of the few behaviorists who attempted to deal with creative behavior. He provided a simple definition and methodology for studying originality. He also examined the relationship between originality and problem solving.


Maltzman conducted his studies using word association tasks. Thus his findings are most directly applicable to originality that involves verbalization or language.


In a typical experiment, participants would be asked to give free associations to lists of words. After the first list, the experimental group would receive instructions to give uncommon responses. On the final list (with no instructions), the experimenta l group gave more unusual responses that the control group. In addition, the experimental group scored higher on a creativity test given at the conclusion of the experiment.


1. Originality can be increased through instructions or practice to produce uncommon responses.


Maltzman, I. (1960). On the training of originality. Psychological Review, 67(4), 229-242.