2013. Vol.4, No.2, 101-109
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.42015
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 101
Relationships between Playfulness and Creativity among
Students Gifted in Mathematics and Science
Department of Education, National University of Tainan, Tainan, Taiwan
Received November 19th, 2012; revised December 22nd, 2012; accepted January 4th, 2013
Globalization and the multitude of technological changes that have affected societies in recent years have
introduced complex and diverse problems into the daily lives of individuals. Indeed, great effort is ex-
pended to create rich and abundant lives, especially in the age of the knowledge economy. In this context,
“creativity” has come to be seen as the most precious human asset. Many scholars have suggested that
foundational knowledge in certain academic fields is necessary for creative thinking. Thus, this study will
focus on creativity in the field of mathematics. Additionally, many studies have found that playfulness
enhances creativity and exploration. This study sought to explore the role of playfulness learning mathe-
matics to gain in-depth understandings of the relationship between playfulness and creativity as well as
the effect of playfulness on creativity. This study used questionnaires to collect data relating to the play-
fulness and creativity of junior high school students who were gifted in mathematics and science. Data
were analyzed using SPSS17.0 to explore the relationships among dimensions. This study used a ran-
dom-sampling approach to select a sample of junior high school students who were gifted in mathematics
and science. A total of 360 questionnaires were distributed, and our valid return rate was 94%. This study
confirmed that playfulness enhances individual creative performance and that personal playfulness can
predict and has a positive influence on creativity.
Keywords: Students Gifted in Mathematics and Science; Playfulness; Creativity
As science and technology have come to exert increasingly
greater influence on the daily lives of people, mathematics
education has also becomes increasingly important (Lofland,
1993). Mathematics is not only the basis of science but also
plays a foundational role in the development of technology and
thought and serves as an index and promoter of the evolution of
civilization. Mathematics education is an important way to
inspire students to develop the ability to think independently
and logically. The curricula and educational policies in Taiwan
emphasize mathematics education; beginning in the 2012 aca-
demic year, junior high and elementary schools implemented
the “nine-year uniform” curriculum. Mathematics courses can
contribute the following to the education of students: 1) its
emphasis on exploration and research can inspire curiosity,
observation, active exploration, identification of problems, and
application of learning in one’s life; 2) its reliance on inde-
pendent thinking and problem-solving can nurture abilities to
practice independent thinking and reflection, engage in the
systematic evaluation of problems, and participate in efforts to
effectively resolve problems and conflicts. Thus, mathematics
is not only of theoretical interest but is also a tool that can be
used in daily life to resolve problems. The mental development
of students, including the ability to think and deduce, are cen-
tral to resolving the mathematical problems that arise in daily
life. Mathematics is also closely related to career development
and the complete realization of one’s potential (Wei, 1996).
In the context of globalization and technological change,
people encounter more complex and diverse problems on a
daily basis. To solve these complex issues, people continue to
attempt to use their creativity to establish rich lives filled with
abundance. Guilford (1967) suggested that creativity and the
ability to solve problems are the two most complex types of
human mental ability; in the age of the knowledge economy,
especially, creativity has come to be seen as the most precious
human asset. Sternberg (2001) indicated that wisdom seeks
balance between the novel and the conservative. Wise people
have intelligence as well as creativity, and when solving prob-
lems, they can seek the optimal compromise between stability
and change in the context of their social culture. Thus, creativ-
ity and innovation are very important aspects of human per-
formance. Personal problem-solving abilities, technological
renewal and development, and reform and innovation related to
social culture and organization are closely connected with hu-
Many factors affect the development of creativity. Most lit-
erature on the development of creativity underscores the roles
of “intelligence,” “knowledge,” “social environment,” “forms
of thought,” “motivation,” “personality traits,” and “cultural
contexts”. Student creativity is related to personal characteris-
tics. Amabile (1996) indicated that work-related motivation can
enhance creativity and those individuals who are motivated to
work focus on their activities with rational playfulness. Play-
fulness can help individuals to be engaged in work or learning
and to experience enjoyment in the process. Indeed, many
studies have found that playfulness has a beneficial effect on
creativity and exploration. Amabile (1996) proposed that tasks
are seen as “work” from the perspective of extrinsic motivation,
whereas they are seen as “play” from the perspective of intrin-
sic motivation. Thus, it is predictable that greater creativity
would be manifested in the latter pursuits. Yu (2005) noted that
individuals would be expected to experience deep autonomous
devotion, high levels of concentration, enjoyment in the process,
stress relief, and relaxation in the context of high levels of
playfulness; these factors may contribute to unusually good
performance. Thus, it is necessary to understand the relation-
ship between playfulness and work, especially in the context of
the significant levels of academic stress in which junior high
students show enhanced indicators of depression. This study
sought to understand the role of students’ playfulness, to ex-
plore the relationship between playfulness and creativity, and to
clarify the effect of playfulness on creativity.
Based on the aforementioned considerations, the purposes of
this study were as follows:
1) To use on-site measurement to understand the conditions
under which junior high school students who are gifted in
mathematics and science demonstrate playfulness and creativity.
2) To use on-site measurement to analyze the correlation
between playfulness and creativity among junior high school
students who are gifted in mathematics and science.
3) To identify the factors that predict the effect of playfulness
on the creativity of junior high school students who are gifted
in mathematics and science.
Gifted Students in Mathematics and Science
Giftedness is an abstract and complex concept with no fewer
than 100 definitions. The term gifted may by defined on the
basis of external behaviors or internal characteristics (Sternberg
& Davidson, 1986), and definitions have been grounded in
quantitative, trait-oriented, environment-oriented, and educa-
tion-oriented psychological perspectives (Feldhusen & Jarwan,
1993). However, despite differences in perspective, interna-
tional researchers studying the concept of giftedness in aca-
demic contexts have extended this concept to cover a variety of
developmental domains. Among the best known of these mul-
tifaceted approaches is the “structure of intellect” proposed by
Guilford (1965), who argued that intelligence consists of 180
The most frequently cited research on the characteristics of
gifted students was performed by Terman, who conducted a
longitudinal study of 1500 children of high intelligence. This
study identified that gifted students 1) started to read earlier,
read more, used language with greater proficiency, and demon-
strated a more sophisticated vocabulary compared with their
non-gifted peers; 2) performed with excellence in tasks involv-
ing mathematical deductive ability and scientific performance;
3) had broad interests in languages, sciences, and art; 4) were
objective-oriented and motivated to pursue achievement, and
they tended to persevere until reaching their goal; 5) were more
accomplished in academic fields and seemed to be headed for
success in professional fields; and 6) were self-confident and
able to tolerate failure (Davis & Rimm, 1994).
Wu (2006) and Kuo (2000) found that students gifted in
mathematics and science 1) had displayed curiosity and interest
in information relating to numbers since they were young; 2)
understood concepts related to numbers and demonstrated
strong abilities with respect to logical thinking, summarization,
and deductive reasoning; 3) engaged in flexible thinking and
used diverse reasonable and effective methods to solve prob-
lems; 4) were willing to attempt to solve mathematics or sci-
ence questions that were novel or beyond their age level; and 5)
used symbols and images to represent and simplify complex
Playfulness can be interpreted in terms of abilities such as
emotional expression and the use of intrinsic motivation as well
as in terms of characteristics and behaviors such as naturalness,
a sense of freedom, happiness, being childlike, playing, or be-
ing funny. However, a more concrete definition of playfulness
derives from Webster’s definition of “free inclination,” which
appeared in the context of a 1953 explanation of the features of
leisure activities. Webster defined the free qualities of leisure or
games as 1) an element of an intrinsic attitude; 2) containing
the characteristics of freedom; and 3) affecting the player’s
leadership, control, satisfaction, and happiness in the game
Early playfulness research focused on the education of chil-
dren. In a 1965 study about divergent thinking in kindergarten
children, Liberman clearly defined the dimensions and opera-
tional definitions of playfulness and asserted that playfulness is
a necessary intrinsic characteristic for infants to engage in
games or leisure activities, especially when playing in natural
Woszczynski, Roth, and Segars’ (2002) review of recent re-
search discussed playfulness as an enduring personal character-
istic that represents an important variable in the prediction of
behavior. Some scholars have studied playfulness in terms of
both situational factors and character traits and have found that
playfulness is affected when the environment changes. This
finding contradicted the notion that playfulness constitutes an
enduring quality, regarding it instead as a state or situation in
which interactions between subjects and the external environ-
ment play an important role. Playfulness has been defined in
terms of the extent of engagement in play itself and the result-
ing pleasurable feelings experienced by the participants. Finally,
scholars have combined considerations of character and situa-
tion in their construct of playfulness as a stable and long-term
personal characteristic that incorporates environment as well as
character, just as anxiety derives from both personal character-
istics and external pressures. Thus, playfulness research can be
divided into three categories: studies adopting the character
view, those adopting the situation view, and those adopting the
Rogers and Sluss (1999) analyzed Einstein’s creativity and
inventiveness and concluded that his childhood playfulness was
related to his general character and creative ability. Lieberman
(1977) reported that playfulness in childhood stimulated the
playfulness of many scholars. Barnett (1990) replicated Lie-
berman’s research and reported several new findings, specifi-
cally, that playfulness constituted an intention and a personal
characteristic; thus, it was an intrinsic factor that stimulated
playing as well as an attitude leading to participation in play.
Studies of creativity have generated a wide range of defini-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
tions. Indeed, more than 225 ways to define and measure crea-
tivity exist (Cropley, 2000; Runco, 2007). Several concepts
define creativity as a characteristic of a person, and others iden-
tify it as a process (Amabile, 1988). For example, Kirton (1976)
included ideas of adaptation, improvement, and application.
Rogers (1983) operationally defined a creative individual as
one who initially performs the creative work. In her definition
of creativity, Amabile (1983) included the idea of group inter-
actions that produced novel and useful ideas. Kanter (1988)
described creativity as a multistep procedure, only one step of
which involved the generation of new ideas. Woodman, Sawyer,
and Griffin et al. (1993) defined creativity as the generation of
available and useful new products or services, the process by
which ideas are developed, and the process by which individu-
als work together in a complex social system. Therefore, most
contemporary researchers and theorists have adopted a defini-
tion that focuses on the product or the outcome of a prod-
uct-development process (Amabile, 1983, 1988; Shalley, 1991;
Woodman et al., 1993; Zaltman, Duncan, & Holbek, 1973).
Chapter 1 of the Handbook of Creativity by Sternberger and
Lubart (1999), “The Concept of Creativity: Prospects and Para-
digms,” lists seven research approaches to creativity, including
those involving mysticism, that were used before scientific
methods. The more recent, scientific methods include prag-
matic approaches popular in the corporate world and the market,
psychodynamic approaches that tend to rely on case studies,
psychometric approaches that bring creativity research into the
scientific laboratory, cognitive approaches that rely on psycho-
logical activity and information processing, social and person-
ality approaches that focus on environmental and individual
differences, and confluence approaches that have received the
most emphasis in the recent years. Recently, scholars have
turned their attention to the reasons for the occurrence of crea-
tivity because creative products emerge not only from the crea-
tive subject but also from local environmental and cultural in-
fluences. Thus, most recent studies have adopted the confluence
approach, which views creativity as a composite that requires
consideration of various individual, environmental, and cultural
factors. This perspective entails the integration of various theo-
ries to account for the various facets of creativity to produce a
more comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon.
Studies on the Relationship between Playfulness and
Many recent studies have noted that playfulness plays an
important role in work. For the individual, playfulness can en-
hance personal learning (Liberman, 1977), have a positive im-
pact on emotions, degree of engagement, and satisfaction
(Webster & Martocchoio, 1992), and promote the ability to
adapt and react to the environment (Starbuck & Webster, 1991).
Glynn and Webster (1992) have also asserted similar views.
Their study of 300 adults residing in different areas of the
United States found a positive correlation among playfulness,
cognitive spontaneity, and creativity and reported that creativity
can effectively predict work attitudes and performance. How-
ever, the first task of students is to learn, and an attitude of
playfulness toward learning will be very helpful to their educa-
Creativity has frequently been connected to playfulness
(Amabile, 1988; Liberman, 1977), and scholarly observations
have shown that playfulness is indeed a necessary component
of creative thought (Liberman, 1977). A study about creativity
conducted by Fix (2003) suggested a significant correlation
between playfulness and creativity as well as a frequent con-
ceptual overlap between the two notions. Taylor and Rogers
(2001) observed 164 children and used qualitative data to
demonstrate that playfulness and creativity may occur jointly.
Fix (2003) noted that the personal expression of playfulness has
a significant influence on creativity. Liu (1994) cited a study by
Barnett (1991) to suggest a positive correlation between play-
fulness and infant creativity.
The aforementioned research results indicate that creativity is
closely connected to playfulness. Thus, on the basis of this
research background, review of extant literature, and research
goals, we propose the following research hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1. Playfulness and creativity are correlated among
students gifted in mathematics and science.
Hypothesis 2. The playfulness of students gifted in mathe-
matics and science predicts their creativity.
This section is divided into discussions of the research scope
and subjects, research tools, and data analysis.
Research Scope and Subjec ts
This study used questionnaires to investigate the playfulness
and creativity of junior high school students who were gifted in
mathematics and science. The data were analyzed using
SPSS17.0 to explore the relationship between these constructs.
1) Pre-test subjects and sample design
The scale used in this study was compiled and modified by
scholars native to Taiwan. We distributed 67 pre-test question-
naires to two classes of students with good grades in mathe-
matics at two junior high schools in Tainan City. A total of 67
were retrieved, yielding a retrieval rate of 100%. The retrieved
pre-test questionnaires were subjected to reliability and validity
analyses before the official questionnaire was finalized.
2) Questionnaire and sample design
This study selected junior high school students who were
gifted in mathematics and science as research subjects via ran-
dom sampling. A total of 360 questionnaires were sent to
schools, and teachers were asked to assist in the testing; 342
questionnaires were retrieved, yielding a retrieval rate of 95%.
After discarding 21 incomplete or invalid questionnaires, 321
valid questionnaires remained, reflecting a valid retrieval rate
This study used two questionnaires as the primary measure-
ment tools, the Personal Playfulness Scale and the Williams
Creativity Assessment Packet.
1) Questionnaire content
a) Personal playfulness scale
The Personal Playfulness Scale used in this study was based
on the Personal Playfulness Scale developed by Yu et al. (2003).
It included 25 items that were divided into six dimensions:
enjoyment of the process, taking pleasure in the creation and
resolution of problems, relaxation in the service of free expres-
sion, humor and ease with enjoyable experiences, having a
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 103
childlike sense of enjoyment and interest, and persevering until
completion. This measure used a 5-point Likert scale ranging
from 5 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree). Higher scores
indicate greater playfulness.
b) Williams creativity assessment packet
To measure creativity, this study used the scale published by
Psychology Publishing. This instrument includes 50 items ad-
dressing adventurousness, curiosity, imagination, and dealing
with challenges; it contains 42 positive items and eight negative
items. The test uses a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 5
(strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree). Items 4, 9, 12, 17, 29,
35, 45, and 48 are negative items. Thus, the maximum score is
250, and the minimum score is 50. Eleven items address ad-
venturousness, 14 address curiosity, 13 address imagination,
and 12 address dealing with challenges.
2) Pre-test results
We based the Personal Playfulness Scale used in this study
on our research framework, the related literature, and the extant
Personal Playfulness Scale. To ensure the accuracy and validity
of the scale, we used the pre-test to identify inappropriate items
via reliability testing; these were then eliminated from the final
a) Personal Playfulness Scale
i) Item analysis
SPSS17.0 was used for item analysis of the data obtained in
the pre-test. This procedure identifies the critical ratios (CRs) of
individual items on the questionnaire. Two indices of internal
consistency (discrimination analysis and item-total score anal-
ysis (homogeneity testing)) were employed for the item analy-
sis of the pre-test questionnaire. We found that the 25 items had
CRs greater than 3, and the modified total score–item correla-
tions were all greater than .3. These results demonstrated the
internal consistency of the questionnaire, and these 25 items
were therefore retained.
ii) Reliability analysis
Reliability analysis relied on Cronbach’s α coefficients and
showed internal consistency. The reliability of the scale was
confirmed by correlational analyses, and the reliability coeffi-
cient verified the scale’s internal consistency and stability. The
pre-test of the Personal Playfulness Scale yielded an overall
Cronbach’s α of .912, which indicated good internal consis-
b) Williams Creativity Assessment Packet
Use of the Williams Creativity Assessment Packet (CAP)
published by Psychology Publishing enabled this study to em-
ploy the Creativity Assessment Packet developed by F. E. Wil-
liams and modified by Hsing-tai Lin and Mu-rong Wang. This
packet was designed for students between the fourth grade of
elementary school and the third year of high school. Students
with unique capabilities and creativity and those who were
selected to participate in creativity-development projects or in
educational projects targeted at gifted individuals were selected
ii) Reliability and validity analysis
The research norms were established with samples that had
been stratified by the population and size of urban or rural loca-
tions. In total, 2283 valid questionnaires were collected for
“creative-thinking activities,” and 2294 were collected for
“creative inclinations.” Norms for students from elementary to
high school were established at the end of 1994. The internal
consistency coefficients were .401 - .877; the test-retest reli-
ability was .489 - .810; the inter-rater reliability was .878 - .992;
all coefficients reached the .05 level of significance.
Coefficients for the creativity scale were .550 - .909, which
were all significant at the .001 level. The α values for compari-
sons among dimensions were .624 - .801.
This section presents the results of the data analysis, which
was conducted using SPSS17.0. The analysis and discussion
were focused on the research goals.
Analysis of the Association of High Achievement in
Mathematics and Science with Playfulness and
1) Descriptive analysis of demographic data of students with
high achievement in mathematics
The sample included 321 respondents in this category; 258 of
these attended public schools (80.40%), and 63 attended private
schools (19.60%). Seventy-seven were in the first grade
(24.00%), 155 were in the second grade (48.00%), and 89 were
in the third grade (27.70%); overall 179 were male (55.80%)
and 142 were female (44.20%).
2) Current status of personal playfulness
We used mean values and standard deviations to analyze the
playfulness of students with high achievement in mathematics
as assessed by the Personal Playfulness Scale; the results pre-
sented in Table 1 range between 1 and 5 points. Students
ranked their playfulness in terms of enjoyment of the process
(mean = 4.64), persevering until completion (mean = 4.12),
sense of humor and ease of enjoyment (mean = 4.08), childlike
enjoyment and interest (mean = 3.96), relaxation in the service
of free expression (mean = 3.84), and taking pleasure in the
creation and resolution of problems (mean = 3.74). The highest
mean score was for enjoyment of the process, and the lowest
mean was for taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems. The overall mean was 4.11, which indicates that
students were moderately inclined to engage in personal play-
3) Current status of creativity
Means and standard deviations were used to analyze data on
creativity in students with high achievement in mathematics as
measured with the Williams Creativity Assessment Packet
analysis. The results, shown in Table 1, range from a maximum
of 5 points to a minimum of 1 point. According to Table 1,
curiosity had the highest mean score at 3.92, dealing with chal-
lenges had a mean score of 3.91, adventurousness had a mean
score of 3.58, and imagination had a mean score of 3.41. Curi-
osity had the highest mean score, and imagination had the low-
est mean score. The overall mean was 3.71, which indicates a
moderate degree of creativity among the students.
Reliability Analysis of the Scale
This study used Cronbach’s α coefficient in the reliability
analysis to confirm the internal consistency, internal correla-
tions, and stability of each scale.
This questionnaire was divided into two portions. The reli-
ability analysis for the first portion, which addressed personal
playfulness, is presented in Table 2; the overall Cronbach’s α
of this portion was .892. The reliability analysis for the second
portion of the scale, which addressed creativity, showed a
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
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Analysis of current personal playfulness and creativity.
Dimension (personal playfulness) Mean Standard Deviations (Creativity ) Mean Standard Deviations
Enjoyment in the process 4.64 .41 Adventurousness 3.58 .43
Happy to create and resolve problems 3.74 .7 Curiousness 3.92 .47
Relax oneself for free expression 3.84 .92 Imagination 3.41 .48
Humorous and at ease in enjoyment 4.08 .53 Challenging 3.91 .39
Childlike heart enjoys fun and interest 3.96 .8 Overall 3.71 .36
Persevering oneself until active completion 4.12 .73
Overall 4.11 .47
Scale Cronbach’s α
Personal playfulness .892
Cronbach’s α of .877.
This study used Pearson's product-moment correlations to
analyze relationships between playfulness and creativity among
students with high achievement in mathematics; these data are
shown in Table 3.
1) Correlation between the overall construct of personal play-
fulness and the overall construct of creativity
Table 3 shows a significant correlation between the overall
score on the Williams Creativity Assessment Packet, which
measures the construct of personal playfulness and on the Per-
sonal Playfulness Scale, which measures the overall construct
of creativity (r = .742, p < .01). The significant positive corre-
lation between the overall score for personal playfulness and
that for creativity shows that high levels of personal playfulness
were associated with high levels of creativity. Thus, hypothesis
1, that we would find a correlation between playfulness and
creativity in students with high achievement in mathematics,
2) Correlation between the overall score for personal play-
fulness and scores for aspects of creativity
As shown in Table 3, the correlation coefficients between
the overall score for personal playfulness and certain aspects of
creativity (adventurousness, curiosity, imagination, dealing
with challenges) were between .538 and .679, and all reached
the level of significance. Thus, personal playfulness was posi-
tively correlated with adventurousness, curiosity, imagination
and dealing with challenges. Adventurousness (r = .679)
showed the highest correlation, indicating that high levels of
personal playfulness were associated with high levels of ad-
3) Correlation between the overall score for creativity and
elements of personal playfulness
Table 3 shows the correlation coefficients between the over-
all score for creativity and various aspects of personal playful-
ness (enjoyment of the process, taking pleasure in the creation
and resolution of problems, relaxation in the service of free
expression, humor and ease of enjoyment, childlike enjoyment
and interest, and persevering until completion), which ranged
from .429 to .681; these values represent significant positive
correlations for all pairs. Taking pleasure in the creation and
resolution of problems (r = .681) was most strongly correlated
with creativity, indicating that high levels of creativity were
associated with taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
Multiple Stepwise Regressions
Scores for personal playfulness and for creativity among
students demonstrating high achievement in mathematics were
significantly positively correlated with each other. This section
discusses the results of multiple regression analysis to under-
stand whether personal playfulness can predict creativity.
1) Prediction of overall creativity on the basis of personal
playfulness among students demonstrating high achievement in
Table 4 showed that three of the potential predictor variables
had significant (p < .001) predictive power for overall creativity;
taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of problems,
childlike enjoyment and interest, and relaxation in the service
of free expression, in that order, accounted for 57.5% of overall
variance. Taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems explained 46.4% of the variance and was the best
predictor variable. The regression coefficients for taking pleas-
ure in the creation and resolution of problems (β = .554), child-
like enjoyment and interest (β = .235), and relaxation in the
service of free expression (β = .191) indicated that they also
had positive effects on overall creativity. Thus, hypothesis 2
(that the playfulness of students with high achievement in
mathematics would predict creativity) was verified. Data from
the regression analysis on the predictive power of personal
playfulness with respect creativity are presented in Table 4.
Table 5 shows that five variables have significant predictive
ability (p < .001) with respect to adventurousness; they are (in
order) taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of prob-
lems, relaxation in the service of free expression, persevering
until completion, enjoyment of the process, and humor and ease
of enjoyment. The overall variance was 48.3%, and the dimen-
sion of taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of prob-
lems was the best predictor of adventurousness, explaining
32.4% of the variance. The regression coefficients for taking
pleasure in the creation and resolution of problems (β = .325),
relaxation in the service of free expression (β = .205), perse-
vering until completion (β = .172), enjoyment of the process (β
= .132), and humor and ease of enjoyment (β = .114) also re-
flected their positive effects on adventurousness.
Analysis of personal playfulness and creativity.
Variable Adventurousness Curiousness Imagination Challenge Overall
Enjoyment in the process .451** .387** .310** .369** .459**
Happy to create and resolve problems .569** .641** .457** .560** .681**
Relax oneself for free expression .507** .361** .403** .436** .514**
Humorous and at ease in enjoyment .467** .394** .337** .464** .500**
Childlike heart enjoys fun and interest .373** .321** .377** .334** .429**
Persevering oneself until active completion .467** .362** .372** .439** .494**
overall .679** .602** .538** .628** .742**
Note: **The level of significance was set at .01 (two-tailed).
Regression analysis of the predictive power of personal playfulness on overall creativity (n = 321).
Variable Multiple correlation
determination R squared
variance (%) F changeOriginal regression
Happy to create .681 .463 .464 276.57.288 .554
Childlike heart .741 .547 .085 60.28 .107 .235
Relax oneself .759 .576 .026 19.27 .076 .191
Regression analysis for personal playfulness and adventurousness (n = 321).
Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable
Create .569 .322 .324 152.78 .199 .325
Relax oneself .643 .413 .09 48.608 .096 .205
Persevering oneself .676 .451 .043 25.064 .101 .172
Enjoyment in the process .689 .468 .018 10.779 .138 .132
Humorous and at eas .694 .474 .008 4.681 .075 .114
Table 6 shows that three variables had significant (p < .001)
predictive ability with respect to curiosity; these were (in order)
taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of problems,
childlike enjoyment and interest, and enjoyment of the process.
The overall variance was 45.6%; taking pleasure in the creation
and resolution of problems explained 41.1% of the variance
making it the primary predictor variable. The regression coeffi-
cients for talking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems (β = .564), childlike enjoyment and interest (β = .164),
and enjoyment of the process (β = .109) also reflected positive
effects on curiosity.
Table 7 shows that four variables showed significant (p
< .001) predictive ability for curiosity; they were (in order)
taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of problems,
childlike enjoyment and interest, relaxation in the service of
free expression, and persevering until completion. The overall
variance was 32.1%, and taking pleasure in the creation and
resolution of problems was the strongest predictor of imagina-
tion, explaining 20.9% of the variance. The regression coeffi-
cients for taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems (β = .311), childlike enjoyment and interest (β = .199),
relaxation in the service of free expression (β = .154), and per-
severing until completion (β = .112) also indicated positive
effects on imagination.
Table 8 shows that three variables had significant (p < .001)
predictive ability with respect to dealing with challenges; they
were (in order) taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems, humor and ease in enjoyment, and persevering until
completion. The overall variance was 42.5%, and the taking
pleasure in the creation and resolution of problems explained
31.4% of the variance, making it the primary predictor variable.
The regression coefficients for taking pleasure in the creation
and resolution of problems (β = .383), humor and at ease in
enjoyment (β = .246), and persevering until completion (β
= .220) also showed positive effects on adventurousness.
Research Hypotheses, Analysis, and Discussion
The previous six sections discussed and analyzed data related
to the confirmation of the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1. The playfulness and creativity of students
gifted in mathematics and science would be correlated with
each other. This hypothesis was confirmed.
Hypothesis 2. The playfulness of students gifted in mathe-
matics and science would be predictive of their creativity. This
hypothesis was confirmed.
Analysis of Aspects of Playful ne ss
This analysis of scores on the playfulness measure produced
an overall mean of 4.11, with he means of various aspects t
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Regression analysis of personal playfulness and curiosity (n = 321).
Happy to create .641 .409 .411 222.53 .377 .564
Childlike heart .669 .444 .036 20.771 .096 .164
Enjoyment in the process .675 .451 .009 5.339 .124 .109
Regression analysis of personal playfulness an imagination (n = 321).
Happy to create .457 .206 .209 84.18 .216 .311
Childlike heart .54 .287 .083 37.068 .121 .199
Relax oneself .558 .305 .02 9.404 .082 .154
Persevering oneself .566 .312 .009 4.138 .074 .112
Regression analysis of personal playfulness and challenge (n = 321).
Happy to create .56 .312 .314 145.83 .216 .383
Humorous and at eas .621 .381 .071 36.94 .15 .246
Persevering oneself .652 .42 .04 22.28 .119 .22
ordered as follows: enjoyment of the process (mean = 4.64),
persevering until completion (mean = 4.12), humor and ease of
enjoyment (mean = 4.08), childlike enjoyment and interest
(mean = 3.96), relaxation in the service of free expression
(mean = 3.84), and taking pleasure in the creation and resolu-
tion of problems (mean = 3.74). The highest mean was associ-
ated with enjoyment of the process and the lowest was associ-
ated with taking pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems. Overall, these data indicate that students were mod-
erately inclined toward playfulness.
The overall mean on the Williams Creativity Assessment
Packet was 3.71, and the aspects of creativity were ranked as
follows: curiosity (mean = 3.92), challenge (mean = 3.91), ad-
venturousness (mean = 3.58), and imagination (mean = 3.41).
The most highly ranked aspect was curiosity, and imagination
received the lowest ranking. Overall, these data indicate that
students demonstrated a moderate degree of creativity.
The Playfulness and the Creativity of Students with
High Achievement in Mathematics Were Correlated
with Each Other
Substantial evidence of a relationship between play and crea-
tivity has been found with respect to common behavioral and
contextual influences (Dansky, 1980; Perpler & Ross, 1981;
Singer & Rummo, 1973). In the United States, Albert Einstein,
Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford, who were known for their
creative contributions to society, were highly playful individu-
als (John-Steiner, 1985).
The first research goal of this study was to explore the corre-
lation between the playfulness and the creativity of students
demonstrating high achievement in mathematics. This goal was
met by data showing a significant positive correlation between
the overall scores for playfulness and those for creativity (r
= .742, p < .01). The correlations between overall scores for
personal playfulness and various aspects of creativity were
between .538 and .679, and all reached the level of significance.
The correlation coefficients for the relationships between the
overall scores for creativity and various aspects of personal
playfulness were between .429 and .681, and all reached the
level of significance.
This study verified that playfulness is indeed beneficial for
individual creative performance, which is consistent with much
previous research (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1997; Glynn, 1988;
Webster, 1989). Additionally, Taylor and Rogers’ (2001) qual-
itative study of 164 children found that playfulness and creativ-
ity may occur at the same time, and the studies conducted by
Barnett (1991) and Taylor (1992) reported a positive correlation
between playfulness and creativity. In other words, those with
high playfulness, who frequently demonstrate behavior reflect-
ing freedom, voluntary action, enthusiasm, happiness, humor,
and joy and who bring an interesting and playful attitude to
work and relationships demonstrated greater creativity. Thus,
schools and teachers should offer some degree of flexibility and
freedom, provide help with dealing with failure, cultivate play-
fulness, and nurture the expression of humor in the classroom
to enhance the creativity of students showing high achievement
in mathematics. In the past, Chinese society has held a negative
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 107
view of playfulness, believing that “play diminishes ambition,”
“work improves with practice and deteriorates with play,” or
that play is bad and not serious. In the modern era, which val-
ues creativity, we should consider play to be a serious matter
and address the issues entailed in the question of how to engage
in creative play while avoiding the negative effects of playful-
The Playfulness of Students with High Achievement
in Mathematics Can Predict Their Creativity
Personal playfulness can predict and have a positive influ-
ence on creativity; personal playfulness explained the variance
in the overall scores for creativity and its dimensions as follows:
57.5% of the variance in overall scores for creativity, 48.3% of
the variance in adventurousness, 45.6% of the variance in curi-
osity, 32.1% of the variance in imagination, and 42.5% of the
variance in dealing with challenges. These data show that per-
sonal playfulness can be used to predict creativity.
This finding is consistent with that reported by Wang (2007),
who conducted research on 394 third- and fifth-grade elemen-
tary school students and found that playfulness was an impor-
tant variable that affected technological creativity. It is also
consistent with the study conducted by Fix (2003), who re-
ported that individual playfulness had a significant effect on
creativity. Thus, relaxation and free expression have an effect
on overall creativity. At present, although the Taiwanese edu-
cational system no longer emphasizes rote learning, the empha-
sis on academic advancement remains. Students still experience
massive amounts of academic stress and feel highly anxious,
which frequently decreases their playfulness. The creation of
interesting and lively educational environments without undue
spatial restrictions or the organization of regular activities or
competitions that facilitate creativity and relaxation should
promote joyful learning and free thinking, which should greatly
enhance students’ creativity.
This study initially reviewed the extant relevant literature,
integrated different concepts of creativity, and noted that crea-
tivity consists of fluency, flexibility, originality, the ability to
elaborate, and so on.
Students in this study demonstrated moderate overall play-
fulness; they were most likely to enjoy the process of creativity
and least likely to take pleasure in the creation and resolution of
problems. They also demonstrated a moderate degree of crea-
tivity, and among the elements of creativity, they were most
likely to show curiosity and least likely to show imagination.
This finding is more specific than those of past studies in terms
of the individual variables contributing to students’ playfulness
Additionally, most previous studies focused on the behaviors
of children. This study broke with that tradition by extending
the focus to students who were gifted in mathematics and sci-
ence. Based on Glynn and Webster’s (1992) theory of adult
playfulness, we further integrated and developed the Personal
Playfulness Scale for use in this study. However, few studies
have focused on understanding how playfulness is related to
creativity. Indeed, no previous studies have analyzed the con-
nection between playfulness and creativity among students
gifted in mathematics and science. This research was novel in
its attempt to analyze the relationship between playfulness and
creativity among students gifted in mathematics.
In conclusion, the results indicate that creativity is enhanced
in the context of playfulness. The playfulness and creativity of
this sample of students with high achievement in mathematics
were positively correlated. Playfulness has direct predictive
power in relation to students’ creativity.
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