Yesterday a friend phoned and brought my attention to a study done at the Harvard Medical Center. It seems that nurture, not nature, is the big factor in the making of creative genius. Talent and genius are not inherited. These were the findings of Dr. Albert Rothenberg, the principle author of the study. Thirty years of research concluded that creative intelligence is due largely to parents' own unfulfilled dreams of high creative achievement. Researchers used Nobel Prize laureates, Booker and Pulitzer Prize winners, and other cultural and literary awards as evidence of literary genius. These were measured against eminent persons in non-creative occupations. Less than 1% of the eminently creative types had eminently creative parents. This compared, in one example, with 16% for non-creative folks who turned out to have one or both parents in the same profession.
Older studies--notably the work of 19th century psychologist Sir Francis Galton, had concluded that talent and genius were inherited. The founder of the Eugenics movement, Galton was working with mainly British aristocracy where primogeniture and the continuation of father-son professions were the norm. In the Harvard study, it seems that "being read to or told stories by parents or grandparents" was the most important indicator of future literary stardom.
Accepting that visual art achievement is a little harder to quantify, early art appreciation and parental approval of creative effort may be of the highest value. In the interest of grabbing some facts, we've devised a questionnaire to see if Rothenberg's conclusions might apply to us. You can find it at: