What is Creativity?
From Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken:
• Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. (page 396)
• Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative:
1. need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation
2. need to communicate ideas and values
3. need to solve problems (page 396)
• In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternatives that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. the ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown. (page 394)
From Creativity – Beyond the Myth of Genius, by Robert W. Weisberg.
• …”creative” refers to novel products of value, as in “The airplane was a creative invention.” “Creative” also refers to the person who produces the work, as in, ?Picasso was creative.” “Creativity,” then refers both to the capacity to produce such works, as in “How can we foster our employees’ creativity?” and to the activity of generating such products, as in “Creativity requires hard work.” (page 4)
• All who study creativity agree that for something to be creative, it is not enough for it to be novel: it must have value, or be appropriate to the cognitive demands of the situation.” (page 4)
From Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
• Ways that “creativity” is commonly used:
1. Persons who express unusual thoughts, who are interesting and stimulating – in short, people who appear to unusually bright.
2. People who experience the world in novel and original ways. These are (personally creative) individuals whose perceptions are fresh, whose judgements are insightful, who may make important discoveries that only they know about.
3. Individuals who have changes our culture in some important way. Because their achievement are by definition public, it is easier to write about them. (e.g., Leonardo, Edison, Picasso, Einstein, etc.) (pages 25-26)
• The Systems Model of Creativity: (pages 27-28)
1. the creative domain, which is nested in culture – the symbolic knowledge shred by a particular society or by humanity as a whole (e.g., visual arts)
2. the field, which includes all the gatekeepers of the domain (e.g., art critics, art teachers, curators of museums, etc.)
3. the individual person, who using the symbols of the given domain (such as music, engineering, business, mathematics) has a new idea or sees a new pattern, and when this novelty is selected by the appropriate field for inclusion into the relevant domain
• Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one…What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.” (page 28)
• Characteristics of the creative personality: (pages 58-73)
1. Creative individuals have a great deal of energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest.
2. Creative individuals tend to be smart, yet also naive at the same time.
3. Creative individuals have a combination of playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
4. Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy ant one end, and rooted sense of reality at the other.
5. Creative people seem to harbor opposite tendencies on the continuum between extroversion and introversion.
6. Creative individuals are also remarkable humble and proud at the same time.
7. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape rigid gender role stereotyping and have a tendency toward androgyny.
8. Generally, creative people are thought to be rebellious and independent.
9. Most creative persons are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
10. The openness and sensitivity of creative individuals often exposes them to suffering pain yet also a great deal of enjoyment.
The Components of Creativity
Two of the primary components of creativity include:
1. Originality: The idea should be something new that is not simply an extension of something else that already exists.
2. Functionality: The idea needs to actually work or possess some degree of usefulness.
When Does Creativity Happen?
In his book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggested that creativity can often be seen in a few different situations.
• People who seem stimulating, interesting, and have a variety of unusual thoughts.
• People who perceive the world with a fresh perspective, have insightful ideas and make important personal discoveries. These individuals make creative discoveries that are generally known only to them.
• People who make great creative achievements that become known to the entire world. Inventors and artists such as Thomas Edison and Pablo Picasso would fall into this category.
Types of Creativity
Experts also tend to distinguish between different types of creativity. The “four c” model of creativity suggests that there are four different types:
1. “Mini-c” creativity involves personally meaningful ideas and insights that are known only to the self.
2. “Little-c” creativity involves mostly everyday thinking and problem-solving. This type of creativity helps people solve everyday problems they face and adapt to changing environments.
3. “Pro-C” creativity takes place among professionals who are skilled and creative in their respective fields. These individuals are creative in their vocation or profession but do not achieve eminence for their works.
4. “Big-C” creativity involves creating works and ideas that are considered great in a particular field. This type of creativity leads to eminence and acclaim and often leads to world-changing creations such as medical innovations, technological advances, and artistic achievements.
What Does It Take to Be Creative?
Csikszentmihalyi suggests that creative people tend to possess are a variety of traits that contribute to their innovative thinking. Some of these key traits include:
• Energy: Creative people tend to possess a great deal of both physical and mental energy. However, they also tend to spend a great deal of time quietly thinking and reflecting.
• Intelligence: Psychologists have long believed that intelligence plays a critical role in creativity. In Terman’s famous longitudinal study of gifted children, researchers found that while high IQ was necessary for great creativity, not all people with high IQs are creative. Csikszentmihalyi believes that creative people must be smart, but they must be capable of looking at things in fresh, even naïve, ways.
• Discipline: Creative people do not just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. They are playful, yet they are also disciplined in the pursuit of their work and passions.
While some people seem to come by creativity naturally, there are things that you can do to increase your own creativity. As Csikszentmihalyi has noted, creativity requires both a fresh perspective combined with discipline. As Thomas Edison famously suggested, genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
The late Maya Angelou also suggested that thinking creativity helps foster even greater creativity:
“Creativity or talent, like electricity, is something I don’t understand but something I’m able to harness and use. While electricity remains a mystery, I know I can plug into it and light up a cathedral or a synagogue or an operating room and use it to help save a life. Or I can use it to electrocute someone. Like electricity, creativity makes no judgment. I can use it productively or destructively. The important thing is to use it. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.”
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