Fantasy Films Increase Child Creativity

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's StoneChildren who watch fantasy films, such as Harry Potter, have better imagination and creativity skills, according to research out of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. The study is the first of its kind to link magical thinking and creativity in preschool children.

Researchers studied two groups of four- to six-year-old children, showing them two 15-minute clips from Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.

The findings show that, after watching the clips, the group who watched the magical scenes scored “significantly better”  in creativity tests than children in the other group who watched scenes without magic in them. The creativity tests included the children being asked to pretend they were rabbits or driving a car and quizzed on different ways of putting plastic cups in a bin and alternative uses for the cups.

“Magical thinking [believing in supernatural events] enables children to create fantastic imaginary worlds, and in this way enhances children’s capacity to view the world and act upon it from multiple perspectives,” the researchers said. “The results suggested that books and videos about magic might serve to expand children’s imagination and help them to think more creatively.”

I’m curious if this research extends to adults. Do grown-ups who prefer to watch Game of Thrones or True Blood exhibit increased imagination more so than those who enjoy Mad Men or Breaking Bad? Also, how does magical thinking as a child shape your adult life when you have to live in the “real world”?

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2 thoughts on “Fantasy Films Increase Child Creativity”

  1. I totally agree! My favourite movies as a kid were fantasy – namely Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Neverending Story – and even today, while I can certainly get into a show like Breaking Bad or The Wire, and appreciate the quality of writing/acting/production, etc., I never really feel the same way about realistic dramas as I do about shows like Firefly, or Doctor Who. Fantasy is more addictive, for me. It’s not simply escapism, either, it’s about seeing the possibilities in the impossible. And isn’t that what creativity is all about?

  2. It’s not surprising that watching, reading, listenting to, etc., the works of creative people can enhance children’s creativity. We have seen it work in our home, where we often watch movies and have our children read (usually fiction) every day. But one of the most productive exercises in fostering creativity is our bedtime story routine. Typically, I would make up a story at bedtime and encourage my sons (now 12 and 8 yrs) to add to the story as I tell it. They woud stop me and say something like, “can the hero have a firend who is a purple frog?” And the stories would evolve from there. Now they are brimming with creativity, each is working on their own stories and together we have been bringing our bedtime stories to life. Check out our YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNkfZ59DNWM
    I cannot say enough about fostering creativity in young children. Nothing makes me prouder than to see or hear what they have created.

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