Despite having slightly higher IQs and slightly more (relative) brain mass, East Asians are considered less creative than whites. How can this be? I see three major reasons.
As humans marched up the evolutionary tree from our tropical ape roots to the frozen tundra of Siberia, we became more orderly (as Rushton noted). This required more mentally stable conformists, less rebellious psychotics combining ideas in strange ways and questioning the leader.
As humans migrated North, women were forced to stay home and raise babies while the men did the hunting. The problem with relegating women to this domestic role is that East Asian brain size superiority is entirely driven by women. East Asian men actually have smaller (absolute) brains than white men, but East Asian women dwarf non-Mongoloid women in brain size.
This makes sense because Peter Frost notes that polymorphisms for the gene CASC5 increase brain size in women, are especially common in East Asians, and became prevalent in the ice age:
Cold, seasonal environments did impose new cognitive demands on early modern humans, first by increasing their need to plan ahead over a yearly cycle and second by providing them with new tasks: garment making, needlework, weaving, leatherworking, and kiln operation. Women performed those tasks because the environment offered them few opportunities for food gathering—the usual female activity before the advent of farming. They thus moved into artisanal tasks that not only required greater cognitive ability but also offered much potential for further development. This was the “original industrial revolution” and it was led by women
But since the World only sees male ideas for the most part, East Asian creativity is less visible.
The final reason why East Asians are not as creative as you’d expect given their slightly higher IQs is that creativity (independent of IQ) is overrated. Think about wikipedia’s definition of creativity: “Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed.” Take away the “new” requirement and that’s pretty much the definition of intelligence. While other races are creating something NEW and valuable, East Asians are smart enough to know it’s the valuable part that has value (by definition), and thus don’t waste time reinventing. This is as more highly evolved and efficient problem solving approach.
And ultimately, if an idea is valuable, it’s probably also new because the laws of supply and demand assign more value to that which is rare. At the highest levels, intelligence and creativity become indistinguishable because so few people can solve the hardest puzzles that such solutions have seldom been seen before. But when creativity tests allot extra points to original answers to relatively easy questions like “what would use a brick for?” they may be measuring little more than weirdness (“I’d use it to comb my hair”).
As we can see from this scene in CRAZY RICH ASIANS, we have two highly intelligent Asian girls, the one who returned from university with a traditional degree is praised. The one who did something original with her life, is mocked as “Asian Ellen” (LOL! now that line was creative! )