This site is now an archive. For the current version of LCL, please visit

Critical thinking about research on success?


Bond, M. (2014) The secret of success, New Scientist (8Mar):30-34.

Success is not the same as being creative, but this article could provide a good basis for exploring the kinds of research that people bring to bear on both topics. I say this not because I think that all the people quoted have solid science or are making justified interpretations of the science. Rather, because the critical thinking exercise of clarifying how some researchers pursue what I see as flawed science and use their status to make unjustified proclamations would be valuable.


Even as some researchers' assumptions did seem to come through in the focus of the studies, I am encouraged by some parts of the article that touted benefits to the learned skills of motivation and self-control. While the author focused on what can be done for children especially before age 5 to nurture success and late blooming abilities in the arts and sciences, I was struck by the "growth" mindset studies that showed results of self control in one area influenced other areas of life. I also appreciated the description of the "beyonders" who 'fall in love with a dream' and pursue it with persistence and intensity which was also linked with "having a sense of purpose, the courage to be creative. delighting in deep thinking and feeling comfortable in a minority of one." (Which were not exactly measured, but very inspiring.)
I know that sometimes when called on by children to play or when down about life situations, I have been distracted or half-hearted about creative play, but sometimes by sticking it through to actually have the self-control to authentically play past my unmotivation, it has made a difference in my creativity in other areas. I imagine the effects for adults, what might happen if teaching this deliberate, important time set aside to just remember and refollow a dream or interest, to be self-controlled enough to PLAY and not just pretend to play. I imagine what patience the teacher would need for the resistance and skeptics, but what that research project might reveal or lead to would be worth it. Maybe there would be the Nobel prize winners or other "materialistic" gains that the IQ and childhood interventions didn't provide. But the happiness scale which was not measured might be even greater.
Thanks so much for sharing this--I'd be interested in your views of the flaws in the data (as well as writing!) and how to best conduct research in creativity that wouldn't justify personal views but would actually help advance the field. Where is the best place to start?


I'd like to share with you very simple and useful research tool:, it helps preaparing projects.