The Interplay of Bilingualism, Executive Functions and Creativity in Problem Solving among Male University Students

Mark Leikin, Esther Tovli, Anna Woldo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study explores the interplay among bilingualism, executive functions and creativity in problem solving among adult male university students. In this context, the associations between two factors critical for understanding the topic, i.e. type of bilingualism (i.e. balanced versus non-balanced bilingualism) and type of creative thinking (i.e. convergent versus divergent thinking) are examined, as well. 28 Russian/Hebrew/English trilinguals (balanced Russian/Hebrew bilinguals), and 25 non-balanced Hebrew/English bilinguals participated in the study. All participants performed several standard tasks on executive functions (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Eriksen flanker task, digit span test, Corsi block-tapping test) and two tests on creativity: Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (Figural Form A) and Remote Associates Test (in appropriate languages). The findings showed that the Russian-speaking participants performed better on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, particularly in flexibility and fluency measures. On the Remote Associates Test, balanced bilinguals outperformed non-balanced bilinguals in the English version and exhibited the same results in the Hebrew version of the test. In this case, there were significant correlations between the Remote Associates Test results in all three languages in the Russian group. Thus, balanced bilingualism seems to be also characterized by a well-organized language system in which all of the individual’s languages are interconnected. This appears to be a significant factor in the performance of balanced bilinguals on the Remote Associates Test in the different languages. In addition, the findings seem to confirm the hypothesis that balanced bilingualism positively influences divergent thinking. The hypothesis that performance of bilinguals on creativity tasks is linked to distinctions in the development of their executive functions was not confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-324
Number of pages17
JournalCreativity Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by VGTU Press.


  • Bilingualism
  • Cognition
  • Convergent thinking
  • Creativity
  • Divergent thinking
  • Executive functions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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