The survey results, released on Tuesday, suggest that most believe creativity is important to everything from the economy to happiness, yet the same study showed that only 31 percent actually believed they were exercising full creativity.
The online survey spanned five countries: the U.S., the U.K, Germany, France, and Japan. Including only those 18 and older, the survey also divided respondents into generations to view how different age groups responded.
Globally, 70 percent of participants agreed that being creative is valuable to society, while 64 percent said that same trait also contributed to the economy. Yet only 41 percent of respondents said called themselves creative.
Why does creativity matter? Based on the respondent’s self-reported income levels, those who described themselves as creative on average earned 13 percent more than non-creatives. Respondents who described themselves as creative were also more likely to also assign themselves the descriptors for innovation, confidence, problem-solving, and even happiness.
Turning to business, the participants agreed businesses that invest in creativity are more likely to increase productivity, along with encouraging innovation and even enhancing customer satisfaction. Nearly half said they paid more for a product that used a better design. But, despite the increasing idea that creativity is essential to business, more than three-quarters of those surveyed felt more pressure to be productive rather than creative.
The survey indicated that most felt the same way about encouraging creativity in the government and education system. Nearly two-thirds believe current educational systems stifle creativity
The youngest respondents were both more likely to describe themselves as creative and more willing to use technology to overcome creative limitations.
While the results seemed to suggest friction between the importance of creativity and the pressure to produce, most agreed that technology encourages, rather than suppresses, creativity.
Creativity is not just limited to good design — Mala Sharma, Adobe’s vice president and general manager of Creative Cloud products, said storytelling is another way that creativity boosts business. By using effective communication, individuals are more likely to get their ideas heard.
“Why aren’t we prioritizing creativity when we know it’s beneficial?” Sharma wrote. “The call to action for all of us is simply to take a step back and create. The bottom line is companies that encourage and empower employees to create are driving results and employees who think creatively are bound to succeed. And for students, it underscores a broader opportunity — not just what, but also how we prepare students for the real world — creativity helps businesses win.”