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Tang, Min (2010): China's Young Inventors: A Systemic View of the Individual and Environmental Factors. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
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Abstract

The focus of the current study is the individual and environmental attributes of inventiveness among children and adolescents. Research was conducted on the young inventors who were part of a nation-wide inventive ideation contest for children and adolescents in P. R. China. A total of 621 (303 boys, 318 girls, Mage = 13.9, SD = 2.5) 4th to 12th grade students from 112 schools all over China participated in the study. Among them, 38 (20 boys, 18 girls, Mage = 14.9, SD = 3.3) reported holding one or more patents. Independent t-test showed, compared to their lower-level counterparts, higher-level young inventors were more intrinsically motivated for inventive endeavours and were more open to new experiences. They also reported more encouragement and resources for invention from their schools. Logistic regression showed that school encouragement made the major contribution in discriminating these two groups. 2×3 MANONA revealed a significant main effect of gender and age group but no significant interaction between the two factors. Results of the univariate tests challenged the stereotyped view against the inventive ability of girls. Girls scored higher in Openness and lower in executive thinking style. The aesthetic appeal of their inventive products was also rated higher by experts. Albeit this superiority, girls, however, reported less encouragement from their parents to make inventions. Results of the cross-sectional study of the different age groups did not support a hypothesized growth of inventiveness from the lower to the higher grades. Instead, an uneven developmental pattern in inventiveness and the relevant domains were revealed, which was on the large part attributed to the influence of the educational environment. Taken together, the results of the current study highlight the important role the environmental factors play in fostering or hindering the development of inventiveness among children and adolescents.