Americans Say No Shortage in Creativity

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In the "Where America Stands" series, CBS News and our print partner, USA Today, are looking at a broad spectrum of issues facing this country in the new decade.

Americans are confident that the nation is enjoying as much creativity today, if not more, than it has in the past.

A new CBS News poll released today shows that of those surveyed, 43% think Americans are more creative today in the arts and technology than they were 40 years ago, and another 31% say Americans are just as creative now as they were back then. Only a quarter thinks people in the U.S. are less creative today.

There is an age gap, however: 34% of seniors think that Americans were more creative 40 years ago - only 22% of those under age 30 agree with that.

No single are stands out among responses, when asking which has the greatest need for creativity. Respondents were pretty evenly divided among selecting alternative energy sources (28%), health care (26%) and education (24%), while transportation received less (7%). Thirteen percent volunteered that all of these fields require creative innovations and solutions.

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Responses were skewed by age: As might be expected, 32% of younger Americans thought education had the greatest need for creative innovation, while 32% of seniors thought health care was the priority.

Can creativity be taught? Regardless of Americans' "can-do" attitude, more than half (53%) of respondents said creativity is something one has to be born with; about a third (35%) said it is something that can be taught. These views are virtually the same across all demographic groups.


Read the Complete Poll

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1048 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone December 17-22, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.