Divergent thinking and cognitive reserve: their role in psychological wellbeing and successful ageing

Laura Colautti*, Virginia Maria Borsa, Giulia Fusi, Maura Crepaldi, Rachele Canavesi, Chiara Maria Guarino, Alessandro Antonietti, Maria Luisa Rusconi

*Corresponding author

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Thinking in a creative way, and in particular the ability to think “divergently”, is crucial for the elaboration and implementation of new and functional strategies and may represent a crucial component in promoting wellbeing and autonomy in ageing. Structural and functional changes due to ageing may affect this ability, leading to a progressive cognitive decline. However, several activities (i.e. mental, physical, social etc) may contribute to increasing lifelong cognitive reserve (CR) which represents a protective factor against cognitive decline. According to literature, divergent thinking (DT), that is a multi-component construct that includes both executive and memory processes, stimulates several cognitive domains, representing an important component of cognitive reserve in older adults. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between DT, CR and psychological wellbeing in ageing. We collected measures of visual and verbal DT, CR, perceived well-being, and depression in a sample of 95 healthy Italian older adults (age: M=73.2; DS=6.48; educational level: M=10.8; DS=4.20; 54 women). Results pointed out that figural DT is negatively correlated with depression and positively correlated with CR. As expected, significant positive correlations emerged between CR and wellbeing scores. Mediation analysis showed that participants’ perceived wellbeing is significantly predicted by the figural DT and CR interaction. Figural and verbal DT differentially impact CR, and therefore on wellbeing, suggesting potential novel implications for the promotion of active ageing and for clinical interventions addressed to patients affected by cognitive impairments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUK Creativity Researchers’ Conference - Conference Programme and Book of Abstracts
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventUK Creativity Researchers’ Conference - London (UK)
Duration: 18 May 202218 May 2022


ConferenceUK Creativity Researchers’ Conference
CityLondon (UK)


  • ageing
  • cognitive reserve
  • creativity
  • divergent thinking
  • wellbeing


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