Creativity and executive functions: a review of individual differences studies



The paper presents a review of foreign studies of individual differences in creativity and executive functions (EF) carried out within the last decade. We consider mainly such EF as updating, inhibition and switching. The key research questions concern direct involvement of EF into creative abilities and their mediating role with respect to correlation of intelligence and creative performance. Studies applying structural equation modelling are being prioritized within the review. The key findings are described with respect to EF and (1) divergent and (2) convergent creative problem solving in adults. The latter includes performance on insight problems and remote associates tasks. Developmental perspective is highlighted by addressing to studies with children and adolescents’ samples involved. We discuss theoretical context, measurement issues as well as educational importance of the findings which link executive functioning and creativity within individual differences approach.

General Information

Keywords: creativity, executive functions, cognitive control, intelligence

Journal rubric: General Psychology

Article type: review article


Funding. The review was supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, № 0138-2021-0009.

Acknowledgements. The author would like to express her gratitude to I. Yu. Vladimirov, D.V. Lyusin and F.N. Markin for their valuable remarks on the draft of the paper.

Received: 15.11.2021


For citation: Belova S.S. Creativity and executive functions: a review of individual differences studies [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2021. Vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 44–54. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2021100404. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Sophia S. Belova, PhD in Psychology, Research Fellow, Institute of Psychology, Psychology the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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