Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work, or a painting).
Scholarly interest in creativity is found in a number of disciplines: engineering, psychology, cognitive science, education, philosophy (particularly philosophy of science), technology, theology, sociology, linguistics, business studies, songwriting, and economics, covering the relations between creativity and general intelligence, personality type, mental and neurological processes, mental health, or artificial intelligence; the potential for fostering creativity through education and training; the maximization of creativity for national economic benefit, and the application of creative resources to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning.
The lexeme in the English word creativity comes from the Latin term creō “to create, make”: its derivational suffixes also come from Latin. The word “create” appeared in English as early as the 14th century, notably in Chaucer, to indicate divine creation (in The Parson’s Tale). However, its modern meaning as an act of human creation did not emerge until after the Enlightenment.
In a summary of scientific research into creativity, Michael Mumford suggested: “Over the course of the last decade, however, we seem to have reached a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products” (Mumford, 2003, p. 110), or, in Robert Sternberg’s words, the production of “something original and worthwhile”. Authors have diverged dramatically in their precise definitions beyond these general commonalities: Peter Meusburger reckons that over a hundred different analyses can be found in the literature. As an illustration, one definition given by Dr. E. Paul Torrance described it as “a process of becoming sensitive to problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements, disharmonies, and so on; identifying the difficulty; searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating hypotheses about the deficiencies: testing and retesting these hypotheses and possibly modifying and retesting them; and finally communicating the results.”
Theories of creativity (particularly investigation of why some people are more creative than others) have focused on a variety of aspects. The dominant factors are usually identified as “the four Ps” — process, product, person, and place (according to Mel Rhodes). A focus on process is shown in cognitive approaches that try to describe thought mechanisms and techniques for creative thinking. Theories invoking divergent rather than convergent thinking (such as Guilford), or those describing the staging of the creative process (such as Wallas) are primarily theories of creative process. A focus on creative product usually appears in attempts to measure creativity (psychometrics, see below) and in creative ideas framed as successful memes. The psychometric approach to creativity reveals that it also involves the ability to produce more. A focus on the nature of the creative person considers more general intellectual habits, such as openness, levels of ideation, autonomy, expertise, exploratory behavior, and so on. A focus on place considers the circumstances in which creativity flourishes, such as degrees of autonomy, access to resources, and the nature of gatekeepers. Creative lifestyles are characterized by nonconforming attitudes and behaviors as well as flexibility.
History of the concept
Most ancient cultures, including thinkers of Ancient Greece, Ancient China, and Ancient India, lacked the concept of creativity, seeing art as a form of discovery and not creation. The ancient Greeks had no terms corresponding to “to create” or “creator” except for the expression “poiein” (“to make”), which only applied to poiesis (poetry) and to the poietes (poet, or “maker”) who made it. Plato did not believe in art as a form of creation. Asked in The Republic, “Will we say, of a painter, that he makes something?”, he answers, “Certainly not, he merely imitates.”
It is commonly argued that the notion of “creativity” originated in Western culture through Christianity, as a matter of divine inspiration. According to the historian Daniel J. Boorstin, “the early Western conception of creativity was the Biblical story of creation given in the Genesis.” However, this is not creativity in the modern sense, which did not arise until the Renaissance. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, creativity was the sole province of God; humans were not considered to have the ability to create something new except as an expression of God’s work. A concept similar to that of Christianity existed in Greek culture, for instance, Muses were seen as mediating inspiration from the Gods. Romans and Greeks invoked the concept of an external creative “daemon” (Greek) or “genius” (Latin), linked to the sacred or the divine. However, none of these views are similar to the modern concept of creativity, and the individual was not seen as the cause of creation until the Renaissance. It was during the Renaissance that creativity was first seen, not as a conduit for the divine, but from the abilities of “great men”.
The Enlightenment and after
The rejection of creativity in favor of discovery and the belief that individual creation was a conduit of the divine would dominate the West probably until the Renaissance and even later. The development of the modern concept of creativity begins in the Renaissance, when creation began to be perceived as having originated from the abilities of the individual, and not God. This could be attributed to the leading intellectual movement of the time, aptly named humanism, which developed an intensely human-centric outlook on the world, valuing the intellect and achievement of the individual. From this philosophy arose the Renaissance man (or polymath), an individual who embodies the principals of humanism in their ceaseless courtship with knowledge and creation. One of the most well-known and immensely accomplished examples is Leonardo da Vinci.
However, this shift was gradual and would not become immediately apparent until the Enlightenment. By the 18th century and the Age of Enlightenment, mention of creativity (notably in aesthetics), linked with the concept of imagination, became more frequent. In the writing of Thomas Hobbes, imagination became a key element of human cognition; William Duff was one of the first to identify imagination as a quality of genius, typifying the separation being made between talent (productive, but breaking no new ground) and genius.
As a direct and independent topic of study, creativity effectively received no attention until the 19th century. Runco and Albert argue that creativity as the subject of proper study began seriously to emerge in the late 19th century with the increased interest in individual differences inspired by the arrival of Darwinism. In particular, they refer to the work of Francis Galton, who through his eugenicist outlook took a keen interest in the heritability of intelligence, with creativity taken as an aspect of genius.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, leading mathematicians and scientists such as Hermann von Helmholtz (1896) and Henri Poincaré (1908) began to reflect on and publicly discuss their creative processes.
Twentieth century to the present day
The insights of Poincaré and von Helmholtz were built on in early accounts of the creative process by pioneering theorists such as Graham Wallas and Max Wertheimer. In his work Art of Thought, published in 1926, Wallas presented one of the first models of the creative process. In the Wallas stage model, creative insights and illuminations may be explained by a process consisting of 5 stages:
(i) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual’s mind on the problem and explores the problem’s dimensions),
(ii) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),
(iii) intimation (the creative person gets a “feeling” that a solution is on its way),
(iv) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness);
(v) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).
Wallas’ model is often treated as four stages, with “intimation” seen as a sub-stage.
Wallas considered creativity to be a legacy of the evolutionary process, which allowed humans to quickly adapt to rapidly changing environments. Simonton provides an updated perspective on this view in his book, Origins of genius: Darwinian perspectives on creativity.
In 1927, Alfred North Whitehead gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, later published as Process and Reality. He is credited with having coined the term “creativity” to serve as the ultimate category of his metaphysical scheme: “Whitehead actually coined the term – our term, still the preferred currency of exchange among literature, science, and the arts. . . a term that quickly became so popular, so omnipresent, that its invention within living memory, and by Alfred North Whitehead of all people, quickly became occluded”.
The formal psychometric measurement of creativity, from the standpoint of orthodox psychological literature, is usually considered to have begun with J. P. Guilford’s 1950 address to the American Psychological Association, which helped popularize the topic and focus attention on a scientific approach to conceptualizing creativity. (It should be noted that the London School of Psychology had instigated psychometric studies of creativity as early as 1927 with the work of H. L. Hargreaves into the Faculty of Imagination, but it did not have the same impact.) Statistical analysis led to the recognition of creativity (as measured) as a separate aspect of human cognition to IQ-type intelligence, into which it had previously been subsumed. Guilford’s work suggested that above a threshold level of IQ, the relationship between creativity and classically measured intelligence broke down.
“Four C” model
James C. Kaufman and Beghetto introduced a “four C” model of creativity; mini-c (“transformative learning” involving “personally meaningful interpretations of experiences, actions, and insights”), little-c (everyday problem solving and creative expression), Pro-C (exhibited by people who are professionally or vocationally creative though not necessarily eminent) and Big-C (creativity considered great in the given field). This model was intended to help accommodate models and theories of creativity that stressed competence as an essential component and the historical transformation of a creative domain as the highest mark of creativity. It also, the authors argued, made a useful framework for analyzing creative processes in individuals.
The contrast of terms “Big C” and “Little c” has been widely used. Kozbelt, Beghetto and Runco use a little-c/Big-C model to review major theories of creativity. Margaret Boden distinguishes between h-creativity (historical) and p-creativity (personal).
Robinson and Anna Craft have focused on creativity in a general population, particularly with respect to education. Craft makes a similar distinction between “high” and “little c” creativity. and cites Ken Robinson as referring to “high” and “democratic” creativity. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has defined creativity in terms of those individuals judged to have made significant creative, perhaps domain-changing contributions. Simonton has analysed the career trajectories of eminent creative people in order to map patterns and predictors of creative productivity.
Theories of creative processes
There has been much empirical study in psychology and cognitive science of the processes through which creativity occurs. Interpretation of the results of these studies has led to several possible explanations of the sources and methods of creativity.
Incubation is a temporary break from creative problem solving that can result in insight. There has been some empirical research looking at whether, as the concept of “incubation” in Wallas’ model implies, a period of interruption or rest from a problem may aid creative problem-solving. Ward lists various hypotheses that have been advanced to explain why incubation may aid creative problem-solving, and notes how some empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that incubation aids creative problem-solving in that it enables “forgetting” of misleading clues. Absence of incubation may lead the problem solver to become fixated on inappropriate strategies of solving the problem. This work disputes the earlier hypothesis that creative solutions to problems arise mysteriously from the unconscious mind while the conscious mind is occupied on other tasks. This earlier hypothesis is discussed in Csikszentmihalyi’s five phase model of the creative process which describes incubation as a time that your unconscious takes over. This allows for unique connections to be made without your consciousness trying to make logical order out of the problem.
Convergent and divergent thinking
J. P. Guilford drew a distinction between convergent and divergent production (commonly renamed convergent and divergent thinking). Convergent thinking involves aiming for a single, correct solution to a problem, whereas divergent thinking involves creative generation of multiple answers to a set problem. Divergent thinking is sometimes used as a synonym for creativity in psychology literature. Other researchers have occasionally used the terms flexible thinking or fluid intelligence, which are roughly similar to (but not synonymous with) creativity.
Creative cognition approach
In 1992, Finke et al. proposed the “Geneplore” model, in which creativity takes place in two phases: a generative phase, where an individual constructs mental representations called preinventive structures, and an exploratory phase where those structures are used to come up with creative ideas. Some evidence shows that when people use their imagination to develop new ideas, those ideas are heavily structured in predictable ways by the properties of existing categories and concepts. Weisberg argued, by contrast, that creativity only involves ordinary cognitive processes yielding extraordinary results.
The Explicit–Implicit Interaction (EII) theory
Helie and Sun recently proposed a unified framework for understanding creativity in problem solving, namely the Explicit–Implicit Interaction (EII) theory of creativity. This new theory constitutes an attempt at providing a more unified explanation of relevant phenomena (in part by reinterpreting/integrating various fragmentary existing theories of incubation and insight).
The EII theory relies mainly on five basic principles, namely:
The co-existence of and the difference between explicit and implicit knowledge;
The simultaneous involvement of implicit and explicit processes in most tasks;
The redundant representation of explicit and implicit knowledge;
The integration of the results of explicit and implicit processing;
The iterative (and possibly bidirectional) processing.
A computational implementation of the theory was developed based on the CLARION cognitive architecture and used to simulate relevant human data. This work represents an initial step in the development of process-based theories of creativity encompassing incubation, insight, and various other related phenomena.
In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler introduced the concept of bisociation — that creativity arises as a result of the intersection of two quite different frames of reference. This idea was later developed into conceptual blending. In the 1990s, various approaches in cognitive science that dealt with metaphor, analogy, and structure mapping have been converging, and a new integrative approach to the study of creativity in science, art and humor has emerged under the label conceptual blending.
Honing theory, developed principally by psychologist Liane Gabora, posits that creativity arises due to the self-organizing, self-mending nature of a worldview. The creative process is a way in which the individual hones (and re-hones) an integrated worldview. Honing theory places emphasis not only on the externally visible creative outcome but also the internal cognitive restructuring and repair of the worldview brought about by the creative process. When faced with a creatively demanding task, there is an interaction between the conception of the task and the worldview. The conception of the task changes through interaction with the worldview, and the worldview changes through interaction with the task. This interaction is reiterated until the task is complete, at which point not only is the task conceived of differently, but the worldview is subtly or drastically transformed as it follows the natural tendency of a worldview to attempt to resolve dissonance and seek internal consistency amongst its components, whether they be ideas, attitudes, or bits of knowledge.
A central feature of honing theory is the notion of a potentiality state. Honing theory posits that creative thought proceeds not by searching through and randomly ‘mutating’ predefined possibilities, but by drawing upon associations that exist due to overlap in the distributed neural cell assemblies that participate in the encoding of experiences in memory. Midway through the creative process one may have made associations between the current task and previous experiences, but not yet disambiguated which aspects of those previous experiences are relevant to the current task. Thus the creative idea may feel ‘half-baked’. It is at that point that it can be said to be in a potentiality state, because how it will actualize depends on the different internally or externally generated contexts it interacts with.
Honing theory is held to explain certain phenomena not dealt with by other theories of creativity, for example, how different works by the same creator are observed in studies to exhibit a recognizable style or ‘voice’ even through in different creative outlets. This is not predicted by theories of creativity that emphasize chance processes or the accumulation of expertise, but it is predicted by honing theory, according to which personal style reflects the creator’s uniquely structured worldview. Another example is in the environmental stimulus for creativity. Creativity is commonly considered to be fostered by a supportive, nurturing, trustworthy environment conducive to self-actualization. However, research shows that creativity is also associated with childhood adversity, which would stimulate honing.
Everyday imaginative thought
In everyday thought, people often spontaneously imagine alternatives to reality when they think “if only…”. Their counterfactual thinking is viewed as an example of everyday creative processes. It has been proposed that the creation of counterfactual alternatives to reality depends on similar cognitive processes to rational thought.
Creativity and personality
Creativity can be expressed in a number of different forms, depending on unique people and environments. A number of different theorists have suggested models of the creative person. One model suggests that there are kinds to produce growth, innovation, speed, etc. These are referred to as the four “Creativity Profiles” that can help achieve such goals.
(i) Incubate (Long-term Development)
(ii) Imagine (Breakthrough Ideas)
(iii) Improve (Incremental Adjustments)
(iv) Invest (Short-term Goals)
Research by Dr Mark Batey of the Psychometrics at Work Research Group at Manchester Business School has suggested that the creative profile can be explained by four primary creativity traits with narrow facets within each
(i) “Idea Generation” (Fluency, Originality, Incubation and Illumination)
(ii) “Personality” (Curiosity and Tolerance for Ambiguity)
(iii) “Motivation” (Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Achievement)
(iv) “Confidence” (Producing, Sharing and Implementing)
This model was developed in a sample of 1000 working adults using the statistical techniques of Exploratory Factor Analysis followed by Confirmatory Factor Analysis by Structural Equation Modelling.
An important aspect of the creativity profiling approach is to account for the tension between predicting the creative profile of an individual, as characterised by the psychometric approach, and the evidence that team creativity is founded on diversity and difference.
One characteristic of creative people, as measured by some psychologists, is what is called divergent production. Divergent production is the ability of a person to generate a diverse assortment, yet an appropriate amount of responses to a given situation. One way of measuring divergent production is by administering the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking assesses the diversity, quantity, and appropriateness of participants responses to a variety of open-ended questions.
Other researchers of creativity see the difference in creative people as a cognitive process of dedication to problem solving and developing expertise in the field of their creative expression. Hard working people study the work of people before them and within their current area, become experts in their fields, and then have the ability to add to and build upon previous information in innovative and creative ways. In a study of projects by design students, students who had more knowledge on their subject on average had greater creativity within their projects.
The aspect of motivation within a person’s personality may predict creativity levels in the person. Motivation stems from two different sources, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is an internal drive within a person to participate or invest as a result of personal interest, desires, hopes, goals, etc. Extrinsic motivation is a drive from outside of a person and might take the form of payment, rewards, fame, approval from others, etc. Although extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation can both increase creativity in certain cases, strictly extrinsic motivation often impedes creativity in people.
From a personality-traits perspective, there are a number of traits that are associated with creativity in people. Creative people tend to be more open to new experiences, are more self-confident, are more ambitious, self-accepting, impulsive, driven, dominant, and hostile, compared to people with less creativity.
From an evolutionary perspective, creativity may be a result of the outcome of years of generating ideas. As ideas are continuously generated, the need to evolve produces a need for new ideas and developments. As a result, people have been creating and developing new, innovative, and creative ideas to build our progress as a society.
In studying exceptionally creative people in history, some common traits in lifestyle and environment are often found. Creative people in history usually had supportive parents, but rigid and non-nurturing. Most had an interest in their field at an early age, and most had a highly supportive and skilled mentor in their field of interest. Often the field they chose was relatively uncharted, allowing for their creativity to be expressed more in a field with less previous information. Most exceptionally creative people devoted almost all of their time and energy into their craft, and after about a decade had a creative breakthrough of fame. Their lives were marked with extreme dedication and a cycle of hard-work and breakthroughs as a result of their determination.
Another theory of creative people is the investment theory of creativity. This approach suggest that there are many individual and environmental factors that must exist in precise ways for extremely high levels of creativity opposed to average levels of creativity. In the investment sense, a person with their particular characteristics in their particular environment may see an opportunity to devote their time and energy into something that has been overlooked by others. The creative person develops an undervalued or under-recognised idea to the point that it is established as a new and creative idea. Just like in the financial world, some investments are worth the buy in, while others are less productive and do not build to the extent that the investor expected. This investment theory of creativity views creativity in a unique perspective compared to others, by asserting that creativity might rely to some extent on the right investment of effort being added to a field at the right time in the right way.
Malevolent creativity (MC) focuses on the “darker side” of creativity. This type of creativity is not typically accepted within society and is defined by the intention to cause harm to others through original and innovative means. MC should be distinguished from negative creativity in that negative creativity may unintentionally cause harm to others, whereas MC is explicitly malevolently motivated. MC is often a key contributor to crime and in its most destructive form can even manifest as terrorism. However, MC can also be observed in ordinary day-to-day life as lying, cheating and betrayal. Although everyone shows some levels of MC under certain conditions, those that have a higher propensity towards malevolent creativity have increased tendencies to deceive and manipulate others to their own gain. Although levels of MC appear to dramatically increase when an individual is placed under unfair conditions, personality is also a key predictor in anticipating levels of malevolent thinking. Researches Harris and Reiter-Palmon investigated the role of aggression in levels of MC, in particular levels of implicit aggression and the tendency to employ aggressive actions in response to problem solving. The personality traits of physical aggression, conscientiousness, emotional intelligence and implicit aggression all seem to be related with MC. Harris and Reiter-Palmon’s research showed that when subjects were presented with a problem that triggered malevolent creativity, participants high in implicit aggression and low in premeditation expressed the largest number of malevolently-themed solutions. When presented with the more benign problem that triggered prosocial motives of helping others and cooperating, those high in implicit aggression, even if they were high in impulsiveness, were far less destructive in their imagined solutions. They concluded premeditation, more than implicit aggression controlled an individual’s expression of malevolent creativity.
The current measure for malevolent creativity is the 13 item test Malevolent Creativity Behaviour Scale (MCBS)
Malevolent creativity and crime
Malevolent creativity has strong links with crime. As creativity requires deviating from the conventional, there is a permanent tension between being creative and producing products that go too far and in some cases to the point of breaking the law. Aggression is a key predictor of malevolent creativity, studies have also shown that increased levels of aggression also correlates to a higher likelihood of committing crime.
Daniel Pink, in his 2005 book A Whole New Mind, repeating arguments posed throughout the 20th century, argues that we are entering a new age where creativity is becoming increasingly important. In this conceptual age, we will need to foster and encourage right-directed thinking (representing creativity and emotion) over left-directed thinking (representing logical, analytical thought). However, this simplification of ‘right’ versus ‘left’ brain thinking is not supported by the research data.
Nickerson provides a summary of the various creativity techniques that have been proposed. These include approaches that have been developed by both academia and industry:
Establishing purpose and intention
Building basic skills
Encouraging acquisitions of domain-specific knowledge
Stimulating and rewarding curiosity and exploration
Building motivation, especially internal motivation
Encouraging confidence and a willingness to take risks
Focusing on mastery and self-competition
Promoting supportable beliefs about creativity
Providing opportunities for choice and discovery
Developing self-management (metacognitive skills)
Teaching techniques and strategies for facilitating creative performance
Some see the conventional system of schooling as “stifling” of creativity and attempt (particularly in the preschool/kindergarten and early school years) to provide a creativity-friendly, rich, imagination-fostering environment for young children. Researchers have seen this as important because technology is advancing our society at an unprecedented rate and creative problem solving will be needed to cope with these challenges as they arise. In addition to helping with problem solving, creativity also helps students identify problems where others have failed to do so. See the Waldorf School as an example of an education program that promotes creative thought.
Promoting intrinsic motivation and problem solving are two areas where educators can foster creativity in students. Students are more creative when they see a task as intrinsically motivating, valued for its own sake. To promote creative thinking, educators need to identify what motivates their students and structure teaching around it. Providing students with a choice of activities to complete allows them to become more intrinsically motivated and therefore creative in completing the tasks.
Teaching students to solve problems that do not have well defined answers is another way to foster their creativity. This is accomplished by allowing students to explore problems and redefine them, possibly drawing on knowledge that at first may seem unrelated to the problem in order to solve it. In adults, mentoring individuals is another way to foster their creativiy. However, the benefits of mentoring creativity apply only to creative contributions considered great in a given field, not to everyday creative expression.
Several different researchers have proposed methods of increasing the creativity of an individual. Such ideas range from the psychological-cognitive, such as Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process, Synectics, science-based creative thinking, Purdue Creative Thinking Program, and Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking; to the highly structured, such as TRIZ (the Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving) and its variant Algorithm of Inventive Problem Solving (developed by the Russian scientist Genrich Altshuller), and Computer-Aided morphological analysis.
Creativity has also been identified as one of the key 21st century skills and as one of the Four Cs of 21st century learning by educational leaders and theorists in the United States.
Source from Wikipedia