Remote Associates Test

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Remote Associates Test
Purposecreativity test

The Remote Associates Test (RAT) is a creativity test used to determine a human's creative potential. The test typically lasts forty minutes and consists of thirty to forty questions each of which consists of three common stimulus words that appear to be unrelated. The subject must think of a fourth word that is somehow related to each of the first three words.[1] Scores are calculated based on the number of correct questions.


The Remote Associates Test (RAT), adult form was originally published in 1959, and then again in 1962, by Professor Sarnoff Mednick and Martha T. Mednick.[2] In 1971, Mednick and Mednick published the high school form of the RAT.[3] Mednick and Mednick defined the creative thinking process in the test manual as "the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specified requirements or are in someway useful. The more mutually remote the elements of the new combination, the more creative the process or solution."[4][5] Mednick reported a Spearman-Brown reliability of RAT=0.92 in one sample of students at an Eastern women’s college, and 0.91 in a sample of men tested at the University of Michigan.[2]


The two adult forms of the RAT consist of 30 items each. The respondent is allowed 40 minutes to complete the test. Each item provides three stimulus words that are remote from one another; the respondent is then required to find (via the creative process) another word that is a criteria-meeting mediating link, which can be associated with them all in a meaningful way. The test-taker's score is the number correct.[2]

Example items[2][edit]

Widow, Bite, Monkey Bass, Complex, Sleep Bald, Screech, Emblem Room, Blood, Salts
Spider Deep Eagle Bath

Compound Remote Associates Test[edit]

In Mednick’s two college-level versions of the test, each consisting of 30 items, each item can be associated with the solution word in a number of ways.[6][7] For example, the three words same/tennis/head are associated with the solution match by means of synonymy (same = match), formation of a compound (matchhead), and semantics association (tennis match). In 2003, Edward M. Bowden and Mark Jung-Beeman developed 144 compound remote associate problems, a subset of RAT problems, for their studies of insight problem solving. They wanted a greater number of problems than were available in the original RAT, and to present participants with a more consistent task – that the solution word would always be related to the stimulus words in the same way. They designed a set of problems to which the solution word was associated with all three words of the triad through formation of a compound word (or phrase) (e.g., age/mile/sand for the compounds Stone Age, milestone, and sandstone with the solution word stone). Solution words were never repeated or used as problem words; problem words were sometimes repeated. The problems can be divided into two types: homogeneous, for which the solution word is a prefix (or suffix) to all three words of the problem triad, and heterogeneous, for which the solution word is a prefix (or suffix) to at least one of the words of the triad and a suffix (prefix) to the other word(s) of the triad. The 144 problems were scored according to the time required to solve them and to the difficulty ratio. This compound RAT gives researchers a cohesive and operational definition normative list, where subjects are able to solve tasks in less time. The increase in the task solving ratios also provides the test with stronger reliability, but at the price of losing complexity and ending up with a less challenging test, in terms of creativity.[6][7][8]

Example items[6][edit]

Fox, Man, Peep Sleeping, Bean, Trash Dust, Cereal, Fish
Hole Bag Bowl


According to Mednick, the RAT could be used to test "all fields of creative endeavor" and suggest that those who excel on the RAT will be gifted creatively as well as in the sciences.[2] Mednick also suggested that this test be used to select students from lower-income families to be admitted to special educational programs. However there is no data that shows that students who have done well on the RAT excel in any particular subject leading to criticism of the validity of the RAT.[1] Worthen and Clark (1971)[9] concluded that the RAT measured sensitivity to language rather than creative potential. The correct response is often the most common response and does not link the other three words in any conceptual way. Worthen and Clark improved upon the RAT to create the Functionally Remote Associates Test (FRAT) that depends on functional relationships.


Despite the original intent for the RAT to be used as a measure of individual differences in associative ability, the RAT has fallen out of use as a self-standing test of creativity.[7] This test has been used to assess a wider range of cognitive abilities thought to underline creative thinking.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

Over the years, the RAT has been used to assess various cognitive abilities linked to creativity including insight, memory and problem solving.[10][11][14] It has been used to study the relation between creativity and rapid eye movement sleep (REM),[16] peripheral attention,[17] attention deficit,[18] memory,[14] synesthesia,[19] and mental illness.[20] In a meta analysis,[21] surveying 45 studies concerning creativity and neuroimaging, the RAT is shown as the second most used standardized test, following the Alternate Uses Test[22][23] and placing the Torrance Test of Creativity[24] in third place.

Whether the RAT should be used and interpreted as a measure of associative processing, convergent thinking and/or creative thinking remains an open question on both theoretical and empirical grounds.[7] Currently, the debate surrounding the proper use of the RAT is difficult to settle due to the absence of additional empirical studies examining the internal and external structure of the RAT. Findings from one study[7] provide evidence for the RAT as a convergent thinking test, but much still remains to be understood regarding potential subprocesses of convergent thinking theorized to be assessed by the RAT[2] and how these processes are linked to actual creative behaviors.[7]

International versions[edit]

The RAT has been adapted into several versions. Researchers have developed a Jamaican[25] adaptation as well as Hebrew,[26] Dutch,[27] Italian,[28] Chinese,[29] Japanese[30] and German[31] versions.


  1. ^ a b Backman, Margaret E.; Tuckman, Bruce W. (1 January 1972). "Review of Remote Associates Test". Journal of Educational Measurement. 9 (2): 161–162. JSTOR 1433810.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mednick, S. A., & Mednick, M.T. (1959,1962). Remote Associates Test, college and adult form.
  3. ^ Mednick, S. A., & Mednick, M.T. (1967). Remote Associates Test, high school form.
  4. ^ Mednick, S. A. (1962). "The associative basis of the creative process". Psychological Review. 69 (3): 220–232. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/h0048850. PMID 14472013.
  5. ^ Baird, L.L. (1972). [Test review of Remote Associates Test]. In O. K. Buros (Eds.), The seventh mental measurements yearbook.
  6. ^ a b c Bowden, E.; Jung-Beeman, M. (2003). "Normative data for 144 compound remote associate problems". Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers. 35 (4): 634–639. doi:10.3758/bf03195543. PMID 14748508.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Lee, C. S.; Huggins, A. C.; Therriault, D. J. (2014). "A measure of creativity or intelligence? examining internal and external structure validity evidence of the remote associates test". Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 8 (4): 446–460. doi:10.1037/a0036773.
  8. ^ Bowden, E.; Jung-Beeman, M. (2003). "Aha! - insight experience correlates with solution activation in the right hemisphere". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 10 (3): 730–737. doi:10.3758/bf03196539. PMID 14620371.
  9. ^ Worthen, Blaine R.; Clark, Philip M. (1 January 1971). "Toward an Improved Measure of Remote Associational Ability". Journal of Educational Measurement. 8 (2): 113–123. doi:10.1111/j.1745-3984.1971.tb00914.x. JSTOR 1433966.
  10. ^ a b Aiello, D. A.; Jarosz, A. F.; Cushen, P. J.; Wiley, J. (2012). "Firing the executive: When an analytic approach to problem solving helps and hurts". The Journal of Problem Solving. 4 (2): 7. doi:10.7771/1932-6246.1128.
  11. ^ a b Ansburg, P. I. (2000). "Individual differences in problem solving via insight". Current Psychology. 19 (2): 143–146. doi:10.1007/s12144-000-1011-y. S2CID 143276113.
  12. ^ Fodor, E. M. (1999). "Subclinical inclination toward manic-depression and creative performance on the Remote Associates Test". Personality and Individual Differences. 27 (6): 1273–1283. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00076-8.
  13. ^ Mikulincer, M.; Sheffi, E. (2000). "Adult attachment style and cognitive reactions to positive affect: A test of mental categorization and creative problem solving". Motivation & Emotion. 24 (3): 149–174. doi:10.1023/a:1005606611412. S2CID 141948491.
  14. ^ a b c Storm, B. C.; Angello, G.; Bjork, E. L. (2011). "Thinking can cause forgetting: Memory dynamics in creative problem solving". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 37 (5): 1287–1293. doi:10.1037/a0023921. PMID 21707211.
  15. ^ Vohs, K. D.; Heatherton, T. F. (2001). "Self-esteem and threats to self: Implications for self-construals and interpersonal perceptions". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 81 (6): 1103–1118. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.81.6.1103. PMID 11761311.
  16. ^ Cai, D. J.; Mednick, S. A.; Harrison, E. M.; Kanady, J. C.; Mednick, S. C. (2009). "REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (25): 10130–10134. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10610130C. doi:10.1073/pnas.0900271106. PMC 2700890. PMID 19506253.
  17. ^ Ansburg, P.; Hill, K. (2003). "Creative and analytic thinkers differ in their use of attentional resources". Personality and Individual Differences. 34 (7): 1141–1152. doi:10.1016/s0191-8869(02)00104-6.
  18. ^ White, H. A.; Shah, P. (2006). "Uninhibited imaginations: creativity in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder". Personality and Individual Differences. 40 (6): 1121–1131. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2005.11.007.
  19. ^ Sitton, S. C.; Pierce, E. R. (2004). "Synesthesia, creativity and puns". Psychological Reports. 95 (2): 577–580. doi:10.2466/pr0.95.2.577-580. PMID 15587222. S2CID 19732833.
  20. ^ Johnson, S. L.; Murray, G.; Fredrickson, B.; Youngstrom, E. A.; Hinshaw, S.; Bass, J. M.; Salloum, I. (2012). "Creativity and bipolar disorder: touched by fire or burning with questions?". Clinical Psychology Review. 32 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.10.001. PMC 3409646. PMID 22088366.
  21. ^ Arden, R.; Chavez, R. S.; Grazioplene, R.; Jung, R. E. (2010). "Neuroimaging creativity: a psychometric view". Behavioural Brain Research. 214 (2): 143–156. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2010.05.015. PMID 20488210. S2CID 16666568.
  22. ^ Guilford, J.P. (1967). The nature of human intelligence. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  23. ^ Guilford, J.P., Christensen, P.R., Merrifield, P.R., & Wilson, R.C. (1978). Alternate uses: Manual of instructions and interpretation. Orange, CA: Sheridan Psychological Services.
  24. ^ Torrance, E.P. (1966). Torrance tests of creative thinking: Norms-technical manual (Research ed.). Verbal Tests, Forms A and B. Figural Tests, Forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press.
  25. ^ Hamilton, M (1982). "Jamaicanizing the mednick remote associates test of creativity". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 55 (1): 321–322. doi:10.2466/pms.1982.55.1.321. S2CID 144754147.
  26. ^ נבו, ב, לוין, א, Levin, I., & Nevo, B. (1978). An Hebrew Remote — Associates — Test: An Hebrew Version for Assessment of Creativity / מבחן הקשרים רחוקים — כלי לאבחון חשיבה יוצרת. Megamot / מגמות, כ"ד(1), 87-98.
  27. ^ Chermahini, S. A.; Hickendorff, M.; Hommel, B. (2012). "Development and validity of a Dutch version of the Remote Associates Task: An item-response theory approach". Thinking Skills and Creativity. 7 (3): 177–186. doi:10.1016/j.tsc.2012.02.003.
  28. ^ Salvi, C.; Costantini, G.; Bricolo, E.; Perugini, M.; Beeman, M. (2016). "Validation of italian rebus puzzles and compound remote associate problems". Behavior Research Methods. 48 (2): 664–685. doi:10.3758/s13428-015-0597-9. PMID 26148823.
  29. ^ Shen, W.; Yuan, Y.; Liu, C.; Yi, B.; Dou, K. (2016). "The development and validity of a Chinese version of the compound remote associates test". American Journal of Psychology. 129 (3): 245–258. doi:10.5406/amerjpsyc.129.3.0245. PMID 29558590.
  30. ^ Terai, H.; Miwa, K.; Asami, K. (2013). "Development and evaluation of the Japanese Remote Associates Test". Japanese Journal of Psychology. 84 (4): 419–428. doi:10.4992/jjpsy.84.419. PMID 24205744.
  31. ^ Tik, Martin; Sladky, Ronald; Luft, Caroline Di Bernardi; Willinger, David; Hoffmann, André; Banissy, Michael J; Bhattacharya, Joydeep; Windischberger, Christian (2018-04-17). "Ultra-high-field fMRI insights on insight: Neural correlates of the Aha!-moment". Human Brain Mapping. 39 (8): 3241–3252. doi:10.1002/hbm.24073. ISSN 1065-9471. PMC 6055807. PMID 29665228.