Another cognitive ability relevant to creativity is the ability to imagine and generate multiple possibilities, ideas, and solutions to a problem. E. Paul Torrance (1988) referred to this ability as "divergent thinking," John Carroll (1993) referred to it as "idea production," and J. P. Guilford (1984) referred to it as "divergent production." We call it "originality": the mental representation of novel ideas. Whatever its name, this ability is part of the general cognitive ability nexus (Silvia, 2008), and it is partially distinct from the broad cognitive abilities that form the core of the CHC model.

Originality declines after the age of 40 (McCrae, Arenberg, & Costa, 1987), which is probably caused by its reliance on fluid reasoning and executive functioning (Batey, Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham, 2009; Silvia & Beaty, 2012). Older individuals may, however, be able to retain their originality if they use a different cognitive strategy and rely on declarative memory to enhance their performance (Leon, Altmann, Abrams, Gonzalez Rothi, & Heilman, 2014). These findings suggest that accumulated knowledge may compensate for the effects of aging on cognitive abilities (as expanded on in following section). Nonetheless, we conclude that a second cognitive factor—originality—likely declines with age and might contribute to a decline in creative achievement.

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