About the task

The Divergent Association Task is a quick measure of verbal creativity and divergent thinking, the ability to generate diverse solutions to open-ended problems. The task involves thinking of 10 words that are as different from each other as possible. For example, the words cat and dog are similar, but the words cat and book are not. People who are more creative tend to generate words that have greater distances between them. These distances are inferred by examining how often the words are used together in similar contexts. Still, this task measures only a sliver of the complex process of creativity. See the frequently asked questions for more details.

We have validated this task on around 9,000 participants from 98 countries across the world. People who score higher on the task tend to be able to:

For researchers

Most people complete the task in under two minutes and the scoring is automatic, making it ideal for online tests and large samples. For more information, see our open-access manuscript in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Data collection

The task can be used in three ways:

  1. In online survey software such as Qualtrics or LimeSurvey, by copying the task instructions into the software.
  2. As a pencil-and-paper version (see task instructions as a PDF or Word file).
  3. From this website (for pilot or informal studies). You can use the bare study page which contains only the task instructions, avoids auto-filling any fields, and returns only the score. You can then ask the participants to copy and paste the score into your online survey. Whether you use the main task or the bare study page, appending a unique identifier to the URL (e.g., ?id=harvard-pilot or ?id=2021-09-17-test) will allow us to find your data easier if there are any issues. You may also want to let us know when you are collecting data so we do not perform any site maintenance at that time.


After you have collected data, there are three ways to compute the DAT scores for a spreadsheet:


For related online creativity tasks, see SemDis and Forward Flow.