An App to Boost the Imagination


An app under development promises to improve creativity and nurture the imagination. The app, which will be based upon new psychometric tests to measure your “Imagination Quotient,” or ImQ, is the work of Sophie von Stumm, director of the Hungry Mind Lab at Goldsmiths, University of London. Dr. von Stumm’s initiative is one of 16 proposals that have been selected through a grant competition from the Imagination Institute, based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center. Led by Dr. Martin Seligman, the Imagination Institute is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and will be granting a total of nearly $3 million to the chosen researchers, who will study how imagination is exercised and how it can be encouraged.

“We will develop new psychometric tests to assess imagination, and then validate them in several studies,” von Stumm told the Tech Times. “Most importantly, however, we will find ways to improve imagination that everybody can use. We will develop an iPhone application that will be freely available with exercises and tips for enhancing imagination. This will be the greatest contribution of our project to society, because imagination is at the core of our everyday thinking and behavior.”

The two-year project aims to devise ways of strengthening the imagination through daily exercises. “Imagination is really important for people, and everyone is very different,” von Stumm explained to The Independent. “We’ll be able to better understand the relationship between imagination and intelligence. It’s not something to pit against IQ. It’s another piece of the puzzle to add on top—a core determinant of learning and achievement, and a big measurement of cognitive ability.”

Though key to human development, imagination is still relatively unexplored in psychology. Currently, it can be defined as the ability to form mental representations independently of the senses. “Many might think imagination can’t be measured,” says Christopher Stawski, vice president of strategic program initiatives at the Foundation. “But by supporting this ambitious scientific research program, we hope to better understand how to encourage and cultivate the imaginative capacities of individuals and society to increase human potential and flourishing.”