ArticlePDF Available
Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2014
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading
Vlad Petre Glăveanu
Aalborg University, Denmark
E-mail address:
Creativity theory
Creativity research
Units of analysis
The psychology of creativity is nowadays a thriving field
of investigation, but also a discipline in crisis. This is the
premise for the critical reading of past and present work
within this area proposed here. The presentation follows the
typical headings of a research article, beginning with a con-
sideration of research questions, definitions and their opera-
tionalization, as well as units of analysis, and continuing with
reflections on sample and method, discussion of theory and
practical implications. At each step, questions are raised
about current practices and implicit assumptions in order
to help us develop a stronger psychology of creativity in the
decades to come. In the end, six main points are placed on
a hypothetical agenda for future (creative) creativity re-
search. In this sense, a critical reading is actually the first
step in the process of being constructive and calling for in-
creased awareness and responsibility in relation to the future
of the discipline.
The psychology of creativity is certainly a discipline that began the new millennium
as a blooming area of study, supported by more than a century of theorising and
a marked growth in research, particularly after the 1950s. There is a lot of confidence ex-
pressed today in the accumulation of findings and the continuous expansion of the field
(see Runco & Albert, 2010, for a historical overview). But there are also cautionary voices
that warn against increased fragmentation and dispersion (Hennessey & Amabile, 2010),
signs of chaotic rather than convergent growth. While we can all agree that creativity
studies are certainly developing (and one needs only to consider the number of hand-
books and journals emerging in previous years, the present journal subscribing to this as-
cending trend), a vital question needs to be asked: developing towards what? It is my aim
here to raise and explore this central question for our discipline in the form of a critical
reading of past and present work. Without trying to overstate my conclusions regarding
the current state of affairs, a careful exploration of this area has led me to believe that the
psychology of creativity is close to a crisis, although its signs might not be perceived
Article history:
Received 17 October 2013
Received in revised form 1 February 2014
Accepted 7 March 2014
DOI: 10.15290/ctra.2014.01.01.02
Theories Research Applications
by many academics working within the field. And this is precisely what makes this ‘crisis’
more pervasive and difficult to overcome. It is my hope that, opening a debate about
where we are and where we are going in terms of creativity research can exorcise con-
cerns that I know other colleagues share (for other reflective accounts see Pope, 2005;
Sawyer, 2012) and help us develop a constructive dialogue that will make the psychology
of creativity stronger and better equipped to continue its growth in the decades to come.
Before starting the discussion though, it is important to include a few disclaimers. First
of all, this is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the psychology of creativity
and those interested in obtaining a state of the art account can consult recent Annual Re-
views on this topic (Runco, 2004; Hennessey & Amabile, 2010). As such, the critical
reading I am proposing here is necessarily selective. This leaves (plenty of) room for po-
tential counter-examples and I am the first to acknowledge that the critique developed in
the following sections applies to ‘mainstream’ research (i.e. the type of work welcomed
by / published in most journals, handbooks, etc.) and does not capture each and every
nuance of the broad creativity spectrum. It is even debatable what constitutes the
‘mainstream’ as many would either not recognise themselves as contributing to it, as
a marker of maintaining their own individuality, or consider it a catchall phrase, too wide
to ever be useful. In any case, my hope is that a working definition of current mainstream
approaches will emerge from the following presentation, rather than through a pre-set for-
mulation. It is hard to avoid thinking about the psychology of creativity in terms of general
trends and more marginal positions. As is often the case, disruption and novelty often
come about from the ‘periphery’ and this paper will bring several examples of this dynam-
ic. I should also note that what I consider here problematic, might well be taken as signs
of progress by some readers. In this case, divergence of opinion is actually productive as
no one particular researcher holds the uncontested ‘truth’ over what is the correct path to
follow. Pragmatically, it is through the consequences of following certain paths and aban-
doning others that we get to judge what is worthwhile and what is actually a dead-end.
Finally, this article should not be read as either a personal attack addressed to particu-
lar researchers or orientations within the psychology of creativity, nor as a discussion of
things that only other people do. I am the first to acknowledge the fact that my own work
shows signs of at least some of the questionable practices I discuss below and discover-
ing such connections is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to consider future
steps more carefully. Necessarily the critique I raise is also partial so I would be very hap-
py to see other contributions to this ‘list’, either building on or rejecting some
of my claims. In the end, the value of this exercise lies in the fact that a deeper reflection
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
over implicit and explicit assumptions and practices within the psychology of creativity
can never be harmful but, if anything, strengthen our position within psychology and with-
in the social sciences. Being critical is the first step towards being constructive and what
better time and place to take this step than in the pages of a brand new creativity journal,
a fresh space for dialogue and change within the discipline.
Asking questions: What creativity researchers are curious about
The first way to get to understand a field is to consider what kind of questions scholars
within it are asking, i.e., what they are curious about. A simple exercise in this regard can
be to read the titles of articles published by leading journals or consider what kind of re-
search is cited most. If one were to perform this exercise, what surely would emerge is
the fact that creativity researchers are curious about plenty of things! From neurological
to social aspects of creativity, from its measurements to its uses in various applied con-
texts, from antecedents to consequences, the questions asked by creativity scholars are
indeed impressive. And yet here lies perhaps one problem within the discipline: plenty of
divergence and relatively little (constructive) accumulation. We seem to be asking every
kind of question about creativity without listening enough to what others are doing or what
they have found. Of course, there are several key figures within this area whose work is
very often cited and widely known surprisingly, only a handful of people, considering
how wide the range of contributors is whose scholarship provides a kind of backbone
for many studies. Who, for instance, doesn’t know Wallas’s (1926) famous stages of the
creative process, who has not heard about Amabile’s (1996) Consensual Assessment
Technique, or come across Csikszentmihalyi’s (1988) systemic model of creativity? (there
are of course many more examples than those cited). But beyond these relatively few
common reference points, there is plenty of ‘chaotic’, uncoordinated knowledge construc-
tion, where a lot of what is found either is not read, or not built upon sufficiently. But then
again, this is certainly one of the key problems in psychology as a whole, rather than be-
ing specific to the psychology of creativity in particular. Still, excessive idea generation
without sufficient ‘implementation’ is not a healthy state of affairs, as any creativity re-
searcher knows.
There is a second aspect to this over-production that makes it even more problematic.
Scholars seem to have abandoned the ‘big’ questions in favour of increasingly special-
ised inquiries leading them to develop subfields of a subfield (adding small bricks to an
existing edifice) rather than contributing to our overall understanding of creativity
(consider the edifice itself). For example, in creativity research there is a strong interest in
the creative person. Within the person, a componential typology distinguishes between
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
domain-relevant skills, creativity-relevant processes, and task motivation (Amabile, 1996).
Finally, within motivation there is a multitude of studies that experimentally or correlation-
ally seek to uncover what stimulates intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for the task and with
what consequences. All of this sounds rather good and typical for any branch of science,
but what is often forgotten is the loop back from one’s micro-interest (e.g. the relationship
between rewards and intrinsic motivation) to the fundamental question of what ‘model’ of
the creative person this research is supported by and contributes to. In reality, even the
most specialised study builds on a massive number of assumptions about what creativity
is, what the person is and how it relates to other people, what the person and these other
people can do in relation to creativity, and so on. This concern goes beyond simply refer-
encing relevant literature, it refers to the need to make explicit one’s paradigmatic as-
sumptions. Side-stepping these kinds of fundamental questions (either because there is
no space in an article to say anything about them or because this is not what reviewers
would expect one to do) makes a narrow research focus go hand in hand with theoretical
short-sightedness. Perhaps there is no better example today than the growing interest
shown towards the neuropsychology of creativity, prompted to a great extent by the de-
velopment of technologies that make the study of the human brain easier. Finding the
neurological correlates of creativity is a current fascination, but what this really tells us (or
can legitimately tell us) about creativity escapes many researchers engaged in this area
of investigation.
This leads me to another common worrying ‘symptom’ within the psychology
of creativity: the method-driven nature of the research. If there is a new research instru-
ment out there, then it needs to be used for the study of creativity or variables assumed
to relate to it (e.g. intelligence, personality, knowledge, motivation, and so on). This kind
of work involves little theorising as the (real) reason why different aspects are measured
and related to creativity comes down to us being able to measure and relate them. Inci-
dentally, this is also how correlational research became so popular within the field, going
hand in hand with advances in the psychometrics of creativity. Unfortunately though, this
tendency leads (paradoxically) to a decrease in overall research creativity. There seems
to be quite a lot of thinking ‘within the box’ and submitting to an established ‘orthodoxy’ of
either method or school of thought, despite the heterogeneity of the actual topics made
reference to above. What is very diverse at the level of particular concerns is surprisingly
similar at a meta-level of theory and method. This observation led me, previously, to de-
fine three main paradigms within creativity research: the He, the I, and the We (see
Glăveanu, 2010a). These points of focus on the genius, the creative person, and the
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social aspects of creativity remain visible in today’s literature and, depending on the
framework one chooses to work within, make easier the formulation of particular ques-
tions (and not others), the choice of participants and research design, and the procedures
for analysis and interpretation. This is not necessarily bad; the trouble is that researchers
adopting any one of these paradigmatic views are often not aware of their meta-
theoretical choices and their important consequences. In this sense, besides the ques-
tions actually formulated in various studies, most of the assumptions underpinning the
research remain unfortunately unquestioned. Among them, the strong individualistic ide-
ology (Weiner, 2000) that still dominates the field, even in the social psychology of crea-
tivity, and is reflected not only at the level of research questions but also by the very defi-
nition of key concepts, including creativity, something I pass on to discuss next.
Definition: Making creativity operational
In 2004, following a review of the field and its relevance for educational psychologists,
Plucker and Beghetto noticed that researchers don’t usually bother to make explicit their
definition of creativity and, “when a definition of creativity is offered in the literature, it of-
ten is prefaced with an ‘oh, by the way’ tone” (Plucker & Beghetto, 2004, p. 87). It is not
hard to understand why this is the case. First of all, the complexity of creativity as a phe-
nomenon makes any one formulation of what it means (to be creative) difficult, to say the
least. In essence, scholars are faced with the unique task of making familiar a process
that leads to the production of unfamiliarity. On the other hand, and this can be related to
what was mentioned in the previous section, an attitude of unquestioned acceptance is
the norm and definitions are either taken from somebody else (the rhetorical appeal to
‘ethos’) or considered to be implicitly shared by the community. The latter, of course, is
not the case. In the end, offering a clear definition makes one vulnerable to criticism, in-
cluding inquiries into how this definition actually plays into the methodology and the inter-
pretation of the findings. Whatever the reason, the tendency to skip definitional work has
been noticed by journal editors and reviewers and today many of them require authors to
make explicit their premises (Runco & Jaeger, 2012). So, when formalised, what is the
most common understanding of creativity?
While “the definition and assessment of creativity have long been a subject of disa-
greement and dissatisfaction among psychologists” (Amabile, 1996, p.19), and approach-
es to defining creativity vary in important ways (Barron & Harrington, 1981, p. 441), it is
safe to assume that one of the best known formulations of what it means to be creative
focuses on products and proposes a two-factor criterion of novelty / originality and value /
usefulness / meaningfulness / appropriateness. Certainly there are differences between
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
novelty and originality (all original things are initially new, but not the other way
around), as well as between value at an individual and social level. However, what this
basic definition managed was to solve an important empirical problem for psychologists
interested in creativity: it gave them a simple formulation that could be made operational
and save researchers from a series of difficult questions associated mostly with the crea-
tive person and creative process. Moreover, this definition seems to agree to some extent
with lay conceptions of creativity since people other than psychologists are inclined to as-
sociate creativity with novelty, originality, and value. In fact, creativity is such a great qual-
ity to possess that it became used and abused in different milieus, from organisations to
schools and political campaigns, to the extent that we run the risk now, through
“unthinking repetition”, to “make the word seem useless” (Williams, 1961, p. 3). The same
unconditionally positive aura seems to have followed creativity into the scientific arena,
making it one of the few concepts in science that involve a kind of ‘moral’ judgement.
And yet, novelty and value (Weisberg, 1993) are in many ways problematic to use.
Novelty certainly is not sufficient for something to be called creative and, if adopted,
would make all things exemplify creativity (Hausman, 1979) since everything is or has
been new at some point. Moreover, for how long do we consider something to be ‘new’?
Novelty is necessarily temporal and the saying that ‘novelty wears off’ is not just a meta-
phor. This is why most turn to originality, or the ‘distance’ between the old and the new,
as a real criterion for creative work. Here again, other important questions (rarely asked
in practice) need to be raised: “what constitutes a truly original idea? How different does it
need to be from other ideas to be ‘original?’” (Runco, 2007, p. 379). In the end, nothing is
truly original in the absolute sense of the word since, as we know, creative products don’t
emerge out of thin air, but out of the (re)combination of whatever exists. In this regard,
novelty and originality need to be evaluated in relation to a socio-cultural background.
And this is even more the case with usefulness or value. Useful for whom and when
would be the key interrogation here. A quick historical inquiry can immediately show us
that some great creators and creations did not start by being appreciated until others
were ready to understand them and the reverse is also true: people and things ‘lose’ the
label of being creative all the time (otherwise history books would be expanded beyond
what is possible to hold between two covers). But isn’t there a risk also in reducing value
to societal value? This ends up contributing to the effective exclusion of everyday life cre-
ative acts, including the creativity that takes place in the classroom (Cohen & Ambrose,
The above is simply an exercise in unpacking further what we mean by novelty, origi-
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
nality, and value, something that more researchers should pay attention to in their own
studies. A contextualisation of the classic (by now) definition of creativity is greatly need-
ed, even if it only takes the form of: “The creative work is a novel work that is accepted as
tenable or useful or satisfying by a group in some point in time” (Stein, 1953, p. 311; em-
phasis added). Furthermore, we need to be open, as well, to alternative formulations.
One central limitation of what we have discussed here is that it ‘locates’ creativity at the
level of the creative product (which can be an object, an idea, a type of performance,
etc.), although it is people who actually create, use and appreciate this product. It would
be safer thus to say that creative products are not novel and useful per se but evaluated
as such within self other relations (creator and peers, audiences, critics, etc.). A novel
criterion of creativity was proposed, for example, by Jerome Bruner (1962), who advocat-
ed for defining creative acts as acts that produce ‘effective surprise’. Acknowledging the
difficulty of operationalising this notion, Bruner nonetheless concluded that effective sur-
prises “seem rather to have the quality of obviousness about them when they occur, pro-
ducing a shock of recognition, following which there is no longer astonishment” (Bruner,
1962, p. 18). Consequently, they involve not only product and cognition but also emo-
tions, subjectivity, and the social environment.
Alternatives such as these receive little, if any attention and, in fact, one of the usual
ways of making creativity operational for research is by associating it with divergent think-
ing, “probably the second most common definition of creativity” (Cohen & Ambrose, 1999,
p. 11). Creativity scholars are well aware of the fact that divergent thinking is not synony-
mous with creativity (Runco, 2007) but, because it is considered to tell us something rele-
vant about at least the cognitive processes involved in creating, it has become one of the
golden standards of the discipline (although, of course the methodological toolkit of crea-
tivity studies is broader than divergent thinking tests). The whole edifice of psychometric
creativity testing, following Guilford’s (1950) foundational input, is mainly built around di-
vergent thinking tasks and this long tradition is not about to change any time soon.
And this despite repeated calls for expanding such a narrow view and increasing the eco-
logical validity of our approach. Even one of the towering figures of creativity testing, Ellis
Paul Torrance, the father of what is arguably one of the most used batteries in the field,
considered that “creativity is almost infinite. It involves every sense sight, smell, hear-
ing, feeling, taste, and even perhaps the extrasensory. Much of it is unseen, nonverbal,
and unconscious” (Torrance, 1988, p. 43). So, we can legitimately ask, how is this experi-
ential and ontological richness of creativity as a phenomenon ever contained in tasks like
‘please generate as many uses as possible for a brick’?
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
Analytical cuts and units of analysis
The work of defining and making a concept operational are part of a larger process of
considering it analytically and, therefore, scientifically. The act of analysis is necessarily
one of ‘violence’ towards the reality at hand, since it is grounded in segmenting the whole
into smaller pieces, simplifying it in the process, very often choosing what pieces are
more important and disregarding the rest. This analytical exercise typically results in clear
and distinguishable units of analysis’, either the smallest / simplest or most appropriate
instances of a phenomenon that can be fruitfully studied. One way of uncovering units of
analysis in the case of creativity is to actually consider studies and their definitions and
focus. This is the kind of work Mel Rhodes (1962) engaged in and the typology he pro-
posed remains, to this day, one of the most widely cited in the discipline. The four P’s of
creativity - person, process, product, press - are more than a conceptual organiser, they
are in fact units of analysis for creativity researchers. And indeed, the decades that fol-
lowed saw scholars subscribe to one or more of these P’s and locate their studies within
them. A critique of the model and a rewriting of this typology was recently proposed else-
where (Glăveanu, 2013); it is based on a central limitation associated with any analytical
‘cut’ performed on a otherwise unitary phenomenon: it results in separate, static, disjoint-
ed elements and ignores interactions and overlaps. In the words of Barron (1995, p. 32):
“(...) the triadic division [product process person] is itself perhaps an oversimplifica-
tion. There is not always a hard and fast line among the three aspects that in practice
have come to mark off areas of emphasis in the psychology of creativity. Many prod-
ucts are processes, and many processes are products. And a person is both a product
and a process. Each is in a sense ‘a field within a field’ a field that never closes, for
we really are talking about open systems, delineated for purposes of abstraction as
product, process, and person.”
In an effort to recover this sense of unity and coordination between the four P’s, we need
to also consider what such an analytical abstraction leaves behind or reduces in the pro-
cess. One clearly dismissed and yet crucially important element is time. Gruber and Wal-
lace (1999) argued for including duration within the definition of creativity and nobody can
deny that creative work involves a lot of time to mature, to be expressed, to be explored,
etc. Moreover, there is a growing field of studies in the discipline looking at creative ex-
pression and development and sharing the assumption that “creativity is quintessentially
a developmental matter” (Feldman, 1999, p. 170). And yet, if we take only the example of
developmental studies, most of them are cross-sectional rather than longitudinal, which
means they actually focus on states rather than processes (see Valsiner, 1997). This is
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even more the case when the emphasis is placed on the creative product, again outcome
rather than process. What is more worrying, “psychologists who study creativity have
usually separated ideation, divergent thought, and insight on the one hand and execution,
implementation, and performance on the other” (Sawyer, 1998, p. 11). Furthermore, they
take idea generation as the domain proper of the psychology of creativity and thus re-
duced considerably the temporal dimension of what it means to create. Preparatory stag-
es (that can be traced back far into the ontogenetic history of the person), the physical
action of making, the use and reactions to what is made, etc. are secondary for a psy-
chologist equipped mainly with divergent thinking tests.
Idea generation is also typically considered an ‘intra-psychological’ activity, something
that brings the individual to the fore and sends the environment to be background or even
out of the picture. It often doesn’t even include more than the individual’s cognitive facul-
ties. In contrast, Bruner once remarked that “the act of a man creating is the act of
a whole man” (Bruner, 1962, p. 18). What is there ‘inside’ the whole person? Gruber
(1998) proposed a dynamic perspective that articulates three loosely coupled subsys-
tems: knowledge, purpose, and affect. This more comprehensive perspective leaves
room for synchronicity and also a-synchronicity in development. Gardner (1994) actually
believed that the latter is the real characteristic of creative individuals, “an unusual config-
uration of talents, and an initial lack of fit among abilities, the domains in which the indi-
vidual seeks to work, and the tastes and prejudices of the field” (Gardner, 1994, p. 146).
This observation is useful as it pushes towards an extension of our unit of analysis from
person to ‘person in context’. Recent decades have witnessed a resurgence of social
psychological studies of creativity (Hennessey, 2003), despite some negative reactions
see (Runco, 1999; Weisberg, 1993) from scholars who consider the social approach mis-
leading because it introduces too much ‘noise’ into an otherwise neat intra-psychological
equation. The persistent obsession with the individual becomes manifest even in studies
of group creativity where the analytical focus is often on individual processes and contri-
butions rather than emerging action (Sawyer, 1997). The study of one-off interactions is
also preferred in experimental studies of group creativity to the more cumbersome and
time-consuming longitudinal analysis of collaborative work. Under these circumstances, it
should come as no surprise that “much evidence in the literature [points to the fact that]
groups may inhibit intellectual activity or optimal performance” (Paulus & Nijstad, 2003, p. 4).
Finally, another analytical ‘cut’ is performed in relation to objects and even the body of
the creator him or herself. If the atemporal, asocial mind is what researchers tend to fo-
cus on as a primary locus of creativity (atemporal and asocial mostly for the convenience
of a more ‘parsimonious’ scientific analysis), then this mind also seems to float unsup-
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ported by eyes and ears, by hands and legs, by the world of material artefacts ‘out’ there,
ready to be used and transformed. The Geneplore model (Ward, Smith & Finke, 1999),
for as useful as it is to distinguish between two main, inter-related stages of creative pro-
duction the generation of ideas and their exploration, says very little about the physi-
cality of the environment or the embodied nature of creative work. And yet, ideas are nev-
er ethereal, they have a verbal, written, pictorial, bodily expression. Even when people
think, and all the more when they create, there is movement, and speech, and use of
tools like pens and paper, etc. A vision of distributed creativity (Glăveanu, 2014) is long
overdue in the discipline, one that would place creative work not outside the mind, but in-
between mind and environment, self and other, the psychological and the material. Such
a project can take inspiration from relatively recent developments in cognitive science
and particularly the work of scholars such as Ed Hutchins (1995). Creativity, just like cog-
nition, needs to be studied and theorised more ‘in the wild’, outside the cognitive or com-
putational models of psychologists and within the real world, in the very contexts of its
production and evaluation. It is there where to create means not to think but to do before,
during, and after getting ideas, to touch, and see, and be touched and seen in return.
In conclusion, proceeding analytically in the psychology of creativity is a requirement
for any scientific investigation. But there are analytical outcomes (or ‘cuts’) that can help
and others that are detrimental to our understanding and possibilities for practical action.
An often harmful distinction is, in my view, that between idea generation and idea imple-
mentation whenever the two are disconnected from each other. Making sure they have
a strong hold on what they think is the proper domain of psychology, ideas and/in minds,
and thus considering idea generation the true ‘moment’ of creation, psychologists man-
aged to break creativity from innovation, learning, and perception. On the way, they also
incidentally made creativity theory and research much less interesting and relevant for
practitioners and colleagues from other disciplines. For instance, there is a growing com-
munity today in management and organisational studies that prefers the term innovation
and considers it “the practical application of creative ideas” (Westwood & Low, 2003, p. 236).
While getting the idea is important, researchers in this field rightfully argue that seeing it
through is actually what matters most. Similarly, if creative ideas come to those who are
prepared for them, this long period of preparation is depicted as a less exciting or creative
(yet necessary) stage of learning and mastering a domain. But since when is learning ev-
er divorced from creativity? How is it possible to learn without changing both the content
of learning and oneself as a learner? The same can be said about the creator audience
‘gap’. If our analytical focus is only on the person of the creator, defined as the author of
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new and valuable work, we are missing out perhaps the most important part of creativity:
the reconstruction of this work, symbolic and material, when perceived and used by oth-
ers. Without this ability to make existing things new by reworking our understanding of
them and relation to them, the Mona Lisa would simply be today an old, well-crafted
Sample and method
There are two main methodological paths taken by researchers working within the psy-
chology of creativity. The first involves historical and present day case studies of im-
portant creative achievements while the second employs either psychometrics and labor-
atory studies for the investigation of creative problem solving (see Weisberg, 1993).
These approaches can be used to answer a variety of questions regarding creative peo-
ple, from uncovering their personality profile to studying cognitive processes. In fact, indi-
vidual-differences research into the creativity of ordinary individuals proceeds by either
selecting a sample of highly creative people and then comparing their profile to that of the
‘normal’ population, or simply applying both creativity and cognition / personality scales
and examining their correlation within an average population (Amabile, 1996). Whatever
way is chosen, there are important questions in relation to each practice that typically go
unanswered or unasked. For instance, based on what criteria do we choose highly crea-
tive individuals and how do we take into account the fact that such criteria are always rel-
ative to a certain time and group of reference? And even when the individuals chosen
seem to be universally acclaimed for their work (e.g. Newton, Da Vinci, Einstein), what
makes us sure that information about their profile tells us something relevant about mun-
dane forms of creativity?
These kinds of questions address one important assumption made by creativity re-
searchers the existence of a creativity continuumconnecting great achievements (at
one end) to everyday creative expression (at the other). While similarity in terms of basic
underlying cognitive processes (Ward, 2001) is generally assumed, clearly there are both
contextual and psychological differences between creative acts (for a suggested typology
see Glăveanu, 2012a). This observation raises the fundamental issue of achieving a bal-
ance in our investigations of creativity between understanding generality and specificity
or, at a methodological level, applying nomothetic versus ideographic research principles.
On the one hand, we have the anonymous and universal subject of psychometric or ex-
perimental testing, inter-changeable and ‘average’ with regard to many variables. On the
other, the intensive, in-depth investigations of the unique creative individual (Gruber,
2005), bringing to the fore his or her experience of creating within a dynamic context.
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
There are then other methods, such as historiometry, which try to make uniqueness
measurable and comparable by applying “quantitative methods to archival data about his-
toric personalities and events to test nomothetic hypotheses about human thought, feel-
ing, and action” (Simonton, 1999a, p. 815). Although seemingly combining the ‘best’ of
both paths described above, and offering us generalisable information about highly crea-
tive individuals, historiometry falls prey to the limitation of any radical quantification which
is excessive abstraction of the individual from its complex social context
One way in which researchers attempted to bring this social and cultural context back
into the psychology of creativity is represented by the widely used Consensual Assess-
ment Technique (CAT) applied to the evaluation of creative outcomes. Proposed by Tere-
sa Amabile as a central methodological companion to her ‘social psychology of creativity’,
CAT is based on the assumption that “a product or response is creative to the extent that
appropriate observers independently agree it is creative” (Amabile, 1996, p. 33). In this
way, creativity assessment becomes grounded in intersubjective agreement about the
world and thus relative to the people and context of this agreement. However, the empha-
sis on convergence and consensus manages to challenge the very premise of CAT.
If evaluation is supposed to be contextual, that means that it can and should diverge
across different settings (based on who is evaluating creative outcomes and when this
evaluation takes place). This should lead us to more consistent efforts to uncover how
creativity assessment varies between different communities and at different moments in
time (for a methodological proposal, see Glăveanu, 2012b). And yet, by reducing the op-
tions of what an ‘appropriate observer’ is to expert judgement and making this panel of
experts homogeneous, findings from the application of CAT indicate, again and again,
that experts, in the absence of a formal definition, tend to agree about what is more ver-
sus less creative. Paradoxically, this conclusion reinforces the view of creativity as an al-
most ‘objective’ quality of the product rather than a function of the context.
Overall, it is safe to say that the psychology of creativity is still very much driven by
psychometrics, the ethos of measurement that actually got the field started in the first
place and helped psychologists turn the mysterious, almost mystical, capacity to create
into something that people can identify, assess, predict. What is rarely interrogated how-
ever is the ideology of psychometric assessment and the fact that it is fundamentally
based on the premise that creativity is “a mental trait that can be quantified by appropri-
ate measurement instruments” (Mayer, 1999, p. 452). Joining forces with experimental
studies of creativity, the two made quantification and control the golden standard for
‘good’ science and ‘good’ research. The marginalisation of qualitative studies is both dis-
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
concerting and questionable (including the current decision of the Creativity Research
Journal to publish only quantitative research). The quantification of creativity, as also ar-
gued above, goes hand in hand with its simplification, to the point of not recognising any-
more the phenomenon that we are trying so hard to understand. How can we ever relate
back, in a meaningful way, people’s capacity to generate ideas on demand, about things
they might have no or little interest for, to their everyday activity and experience as crea-
tive agents? How can we stop reading creativity ‘backwards’, in terms of its results, and
start exploring it ‘forwards’, in terms of its movement (Ingold & Hallam, 2007, p. 2)? How
can we observe more closely the microgenesis of creativity, its emergence within moment
to moment activity and interaction? Fundamentally, not by means of psychometrics as
currently defined and practiced.
Discussion and/no theory
All the issues raised above contribute to one of the most problematic aspects faced by
the psychology of creativity today: an increasing accumulation of research findings with-
out being matched by theory-building. This doesn’t mean that all or even most studies are
atheoretical since, as we know, it is a requirement of having work published to perform at
least a minimal literature review and place one’s study within existing scholarship. The
issue is that the theoretical ambitions in most cases are rather limited. It might be that the
age of grand theories of human psychology has passed and we are left with medium-
level theorising (Karwowski, 2012), but what exactly can we hope to achieve by creating
theories for a single branch or a single tree and missing the whole forest? There are
many constraints of space, time, aim, etc. that work against adopting a broader view and
making bolder theoretical claims but, if we are to keep the psychology of creativity thriving
in the decades to come, we need such thinking. What is more, we need to acknowledge
the importance of ‘grand theories’ for organising and guiding our research and, most sig-
nificantly, we need to acknowledge that we are guided by such theories and paradigmatic
views even when we think we are not.
This might sound controversial but it is my belief that the first decades of the last cen-
tury were, on the whole, much more creative in terms of theoretical thinking than what fol-
lowed as the discipline grew bigger and bigger. If quantity is not necessarily related to
quality, then being productive as a research community doesn’t necessarily mean being
original and innovative. Starting the ‘official’ history of the discipline around the 1950s and
referring constantly to Guilford’s APA Presidential speech as a turning point serves to ob-
scure the fact that creative thinking about creativity happened long before (not to mention
outside psychology). Thinkers like John Dewey, Sigmund Freud and James Mark Bald-
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
win, among many others, might not be immediately seen as creativity scholars but they
should be! If their efforts were aimed at constructing large theoretical frameworks, like
pragmatism or psychoanalysis, this doesn’t mean they assigned creativity a secondary
position. On the contrary, a careful reading of Dewey’s (1934) Art as Experience reveals
one of the most fascinating accounts of creativity as action (see Glăveanu, 2013b), while
Baldwin’s (1903) developmental studies made not only adults but children as well, at
once, imitators and inventors. For Freud, every child at play behaves like a creative writer
since “he creates a world of his own or, rather, rearranges the things of his world in a new
way which pleases him” (Freud, 1970, pp.126-127; in original 1908). Most importantly, to
understand his claim (just as any by Dewey, Baldwin, etc.) one needs to situate it within
the complex system of thought elaborated by the author. Freud’s parallel, in this case, is
not gratuitous. It draws on psychoanalytic theories of play and phantasy, of repression
and sublimation, of the interplay between a creative (Eros) and destructive (Thanatos)
principle embedded within our psychology. Is this viewpoint still legitimate, is the whole
theoretical edifice solid? This is of course open for debate but, what cannot be contested
is the impact of psychoanalysis on our thinking and research, within and beyond the psy-
chology of creativity (we can consider, for instance, its relevance for research on creativi-
ty and pathology).
The conclusion to be drawn from here is that theory building is not reduced or reduci-
ble to understanding, for example, the fourth grade creativity slump with the help of psy-
chometric investigations (as useful as this type of research is in its own right). These find-
ings and middle-level models cannot float around, unsupported, they need to be ‘located’
somewhere within a conception of what creativity is in relation to what being a person is,
or what it means to live within a society and culture. Many will probably argue that the lat-
ter are not to be addressed by creativity researchers and, indeed, one cannot reasonably
be expected to first construct a theoretical framework of the magnitude of pragmatism or
psychoanalysis and only then be able to answer specific questions regarding creative
work. This is not the point. Grand theories already exist, and they are to be found not only
inside psychology (think for instance about Bergson’s work on creative evolution or Bour-
dieu’s concept of the habitus); it is a matter of knowing these theories and making the ef-
fort to understand and work with or against them. This is possible and has been previous-
ly done, for example in relation to Darwin’s theory of evolution (see Simonton’s, 1999b,
inquiry into whether creativity is a process of blind variation and selective retention).
There are also several examples of broad frameworks or typologies for understanding
creative action and they include, among others, the Propulsion Theory of Creative Lead-
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
ership (Sternberg, Kaufman & Pretz, 2003) or the Amusement Park Theory of Creativity
(Kaufman & Baer, 2004). We need more initiatives like these if the field is to make a real
contribution to scientific debates and practice, rather than run around in circles using the
same methods and concepts over and over again.
Practical implications: To be continued...
‘Why isn’t creativity more important to educational psychologists?’ was the question
asked by Plucker and Beghetto (2004), surprised not to find more creativity research cit-
ed and used by colleagues working in the field of education. This type of problem is nei-
ther new nor easy to solve (see also Urban, 1991; Houtz & Krug, 1995). It largely derives
from the weaknesses and limitations discussed above in relation to theory and method
within the psychology of creativity. There is little practitioners from education and other
applied fields, like business or art, can do with a conception of creativity as a mental
property or with measurement that focuses on product and potential instead of actual
practices. Unfortunately, although creativity researchers do argue for the practical im-
portance of their work, they fall short of their promise by being very vague about their ad-
vice. When creativity articles do have a section (or rather a paragraph) on practical impli-
cations, these tend to simply reiterate why the general topic proposed or the findings are
interesting or important. What educators or managers should do with them is anyone’s
To understand how creativity research can become more relevant we need to return to
a theoretical consideration. Before trying to enhance creative expression, the crucial
question to ask is whether creativity can indeed be educated. There are very few who
would disagree with this premise and, historically, the psychology of creativity took shape
based on the assumption that psychologists can do something about creativity, helping
people to either become or remain creative (Guilford, 1950). However, the long-term fas-
cination with inherited abilities and personality traits paradoxically runs counter to this as-
piration. As Amabile eloquently observed:
“There is not much that can be done about innate abilities and personality characteris-
tics. Furthermore, although cognitive skills necessary for creative performance can be
developed, this process normally occurs over relatively long periods of time. By con-
trast, social environments influencing creativity can be changed easily and can have
immediately observable effects on performance” (Amabile, 1996, pp. XVI-XVII).
The theme of how to design environments conducive for creative performance has been
one of the most important topics for practically minded creativity researchers. And yet,
once more, the theoretical perspective adopted to consider both person and environment
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
is not always the most productive as it typically imposes a strict and ultimately false sepa-
ration between person and world, treated as two units of analysis instead of one integrat-
ed system. If the environment is simply made up of positive and negative stimulations,
according to an old behaviourist schema, then the creative output becomes a mere re-
sponse conditioned by different independent and mediating variables. Unfortunately, the
everyday practice and experience of creating in the classroom, at the office, or in the art
studio doesn’t conform to this binary model of person interacting with environment. It re-
lies instead on the two being inter-dependent (Glăveanu, 2011; Tanggaard, 2013), which
means that creative individuals exist within a social and material environment and this en-
vironment exists within the person as well. Moreover, studying creative performance in
artificial settings and with the help of unfamiliar tasks can only distort our understanding
of how creativity actually emerges outside the lab. Unfortunately, the focus in group crea-
tivity studies of brainstorming, for instance, has been on setting up one-off sessions
where people are called to generate ideas together, ignoring the fact that idea generation
is not a one time achievement but a continuous process embedded within long-term col-
laboration (Montuori & Purser, 1997). Being creative virtually on demand or among
strangers, a usual paradigm of research in this area, cannot possibly be very insightful for
people working with real life teams and organisations (Moran & John-Steiner, 2003, p. 82).
There is also the reverse of being overly concerned with control in experimental de-
signs and trying to produce knowledge for practitioners in applied fields and this danger is
embodied by the X steps to’ approach (or the toolbox approach; Purser & Montuori,
2000). Corporate training is full nowadays of pseudo-scientific conclusions and tricks of
the trade coming from supposed creativity studies. Their main fault, apart from the dubi-
ous nature of the research that supports them, is the implicit assumption that one size fits
all and that what works within one context will probably work in another, more or less sim-
ilar one. Just as there is no single theory that can meaningfully cover all the dimensions
of what it means to create, there certainly is no one formula for how to be creative in
practice. Either not being concerned with the practical implications of one’s work or over-
promising and simplifying an otherwise complex reality are dead-ends on the path to
more respectability among communities of practitioners. If the psychology of creativity is
to make an impact in real life, it needs to start its investigations from real life and not keep
them (completely) inside the laboratory or testing room. Turning the social, organisation-
al, and educational arenas into an open laboratory is a clear necessity for academics,
even if this means going out of one’s comfort zone and challenging current ways of think-
ing and doing research.
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
Finally, what we need to become more and more aware of as a community is the fact
that our research has important consequences for society, even when these consequenc-
es are unintended. This is because scientific findings do feed into lay representations
(see Moscovici, 1984) of what 'creativity' or the 'creative person' is. In this process, they
articulate with existing ideologies and systems of belief about human agency, the power
of institutions, and the political and economic system. It is not hard to notice, for instance,
that our current ideas about creativity and the emphasis on social, often economic, value,
relate to the ethos of consumerism (as creative and continuous production stimulates in-
creased consumption) and capitalism (stimulating private initiatives, competition, and
property over one's creations) and, ultimately, support discourses of growth and develop-
ment strongly endorsed by 'First World' countries. The consequences of such thinking for
other parts of the world, as well as the environment, are becoming more and more visible
today and both academic and practitioners invested in the study of creativity can no long-
er ignore the global debate they themselves contribute to through their research. In this
sense, critical thinking should be at the core of research and stimulate an ongoing reflec-
tion on impact and social responsibility.
Future directions
After considering questions, definitions, analytical units, sample and methods, theoretical
and practical contributions, it is time to end, as most articles do, with future directions.
Just that, instead of considering what is commonly included under this heading, I will pro-
pose here a possible future agenda for creativity research. I started by claiming that the
psychology of creativity is experiencing a crisis, despite the growing number of studies,
journals, books and handbooks, etc., or the obvious appeal this type of research has for
the general public. From this perspective, opening a debate about the existence and na-
ture of the ‘crisis’ can only be an opportunity to reflect on current practices and directions
of research and, indeed, look towards the next decades. My critique was admittedly
broad in scope and I reaffirm the conviction that what has been mentioned above doesn’t
apply to each and every piece of research in the literature. Moreover, several of what I
consider limitations might be taken as signs of progress by others, particularly progress in
the direction of a more positivistic study of creativity. And indeed, the advancement of
psychometrics or experimental designs, for example, did make significant contributions.
My aim is not to downplay one methodology or another (as each has its own virtues and
weaknesses), nor is it to claim that nothing of value has been achieved in the decades
since the 1950s (thus throwing out the baby with the bathwater). The point is that we
need to build more systematically on what we have achieved as a field and, at the same
Vlad Petre Glăveanu / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
time, do so in a critical manner. Being critical in this case is not a sign of scepticism but
the first step towards being constructive and more engaged.
My own work, aiming to establish a cultural psychology of creativity (Glăveanu,
2010a,b), has focused on several of the limitations mentioned above and tried to tackle
old habits of thought in relation to creativity, the creative person, process, product, and
environment. This discipline, still situated at the periphery, has the potential of leading us
towards new and exciting directions for theory and research. It can also make the study
of creativity more inter-disciplinary and help us get out of the ‘box’ of what psychology
considers valid and useful. It is my deep belief that scientific questions should not be for-
mulated from particular disciplinary positions but focus on the actual topic or phenome-
non under investigation. The real world is not neatly and conveniently segmented into
parts ascribed to psychologists, to sociologists, to biologists, etc. We are the ones creat-
ing our own segments of interest and when they are too narrow (like an exclusive focus
on person or product) it is not only the big picture that we are missing but also the chance
to engage in dialogue with people who share similar concerns. At the same time, the cul-
tural psychological approach is only one among other valid approaches to creativity and
our task is to consider how to put these perspectives into dialogue instead of creating
new theoretical and methodological ‘boxes’ for them.
Based on the points made here about the current state of the psychology of creativity,
there are a few take-away conclusions for future research. Many of these will seem obvi-
ous, but it is taken together that I believe they can make a powerful impact on the field
and help it move forward:
1. Ask bold, new, and surprising questions. It might seem at times, considering the ex-
tent of the literature, that most of the key questions have been asked already and one
can only add an extra variable or test a common hypothesis on a new sample. This per-
ception is wrong: it is the ‘old’ questions that have been asked again and again, truly in-
novative ones are still waiting to be raised.
2. Reflect on definitions, do not simply take them for granted. And this includes of
course the definition of creativity. It is perfectly justifiable to use classic formulations that
point to novelty, originality, value, etc. but do so in a critical manner. In particular, see
how definitions relate to the methodology used and constrain or facilitate data analysis
and interpretation.
3. Challenge traditional units of analysis. While zooming in on the individual is legiti-
mate in cases where the research question refers to individual variables, we should be
careful to avoid letting this unit of analysis the individual mind drive our questions.
The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading / CREATIVITY 1(1) 2014
Many interesting interrogations actually push the researcher towards challenging tradi-
tional analytical ‘cuts’ that separate person from environment, product from process, and
so on. It is important in these cases not to abandon such questions or constrain them by
applying the usual methodologies, ready at hand.
4. Look for unique, interesting samples and develop new methods. Related to the pre-
vious point, it is always important to remember that, when a certain method (for data col-
lection or analysis) doesn’t seem to exist, we can invent it and/or draw inspiration from
other disciplines in the process. In fact, methodological exchanges are as important as
theoretical ones and a cross-disciplinary practice that unfortunately is rare so far. Also
think about going beyond psychology students and acknowledged creators as partici-
pants. The world is full of people who, due to their social or personal circumstances, have
something interesting to tell us about creativity.
5. Build theory, don’t just cite it. The literature review and discussion sections are not
simply an occasion to cite the works you are expected to cite, but should be treated as an
opportunity to position your concern and your findings within a broader context. In de-
scribing this context one needs to reflect not only on what theories explicitly state, but al-
so on what they implicitly entail about creativity, cognition, culture, and so on. Contrib-
uting to the paradigmatic debates within the discipline is more valuable than adding an-
other citation within a micro-field of inquiry.
6. Think practically about your conclusions. Creativity research is more than a scientific
or academic exercise. Creative action is part of the life of people and their activity, so its
study is unavoidably an intervention that has the potential to shape both, a potential not
to be wasted!
These are six fairly general principles for the agenda of future (creative) creativity re-
search. The list is of course open to additions. The main aim, as argued throughout this
article, is to build more systematically on what we have collectively achieved as a scien-
tific community and, at the same time, do so in a critical and reflective manner. Just like
creativity, the discipline itself requires dialogue and collaboration and its outcomes are
not the product of individual thinking but of joint efforts. As a community, creativity re-
searchers should take a good look at their own studies and think about how their conclu-
sions concerning creativity can be used to revitalise the field. In the end, knowledge
about creativity is, or should be at least, a creative outcome. How this outcome comes
about and can be put to better use remain open questions for us all.
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Corresponding author at: Vlad Petre Glăveanu, Department of Psychology and Com-
munication, Aalborg University, 3 Kroghstræde St., 9220 Aalborg, Denmark.
... later, Sect. 3 is dedicated to investigating how creativity is in crisis, while our leading hypothesis is that following the epistemic individual-society rupture embedded in the individualistic project and postmodern times, it is shown that such rupture leads to the halt of the activity system both practically and mentally, hence, resulting in not only a crisis in creativity but also a crisis of mind's coherence and functionality along with the increased chaos, complexity, and contradictions of the "post-normal times" characterized by future in crisis or Utopias' crisis (e.g., see Sardar, 2010;Montuori, 2011;Montuori & Donnelly, 2020). So, since "scholars seem to have abandoned the 'big' questions in favor of increasingly specialized inquiries leading them to develop sub-fields of a subfield" (Glăveanu, 2014, p. 12), our aim is to contribute to shedding light on the 'big' questions, as a necessary entrance of solving them, especially when in creativity research we find mid-level theorizing, and the need for more weight of grand theories and meta-narratives, and for qualitative positions (e.g., see Chruszczewski, 2014a;Glăveanu, 2014;Karwowski, 2012Karwowski, , 2014 although some opinions try to diminish the grand theories' ability to push the research on the empirical level (e.g., see Baer, 2011). ness, value, and meaningfulness, in addition to its relation to divergent thinking. ...
... What differs between scholars is the dimensions and the depth of the problems themselves. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt an explicit definition since it will govern the research question and methodology (Glăveanu, 2014). Obviously, it is not sufficient to have a one-sided definition or handle the levels and elements separately that simplifies our study topic. ...
... Moreover, in Vygotsky's theory of art, "aesthetics is a matter of delayed action…a vague great feeling of wanting to act and react… [and an] organization of our future behavior" (Lindqvist, 2003, p.247, 248). Therefore, to situate the phenomenon in an open system where time is a crucial level (Barron, 1995;Glăveanu, 2014). In this regard, "creativity is quintessentially a developmental matter" (Feldman, 1999, p. 170), longitudinal (instead of being only cross-sectional) and processes-based (rather than being states-based) (see Valsiner, 1997). ...
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Creativity is considered a global ability and crucial for ordinary-daily and special (e.g., science, aesthetic) activities. In this paper, from the position of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), we expand the debate about the creativity crisis and hypothesize that the noted crisis is only the tip of the iceberg represented by the crisis of the postmodern’ incoherent mind, reflecting the crisis of self-realization as a leading activity in the individualistic epoch. By investigating creativity as an original functionality of the mind, two key titles are stressed. One is the halting of the activity system; two, it is the inconsistency between the objective meanings sphere and the subjective sense-making sphere. Both titles represent the epistemological rupture embedded in the mainstream culture and praxis rooted in the internal contradictions of individualism and post-modernism as worldview and practices, leading the mind to close its eyes on the contradictions which are the crucial source of grasping the internal content (abstraction and generalization) of the given experience, hence, a crucial source of creativity. Thus, it is considered that not only creativity is in crisis, but also the coherence of the mind as well, as an extreme result of the shattered postmodern existence.
... Aesthetical experience (art, music) is deeply related to the creative process as the main function of the mind. Creativity research is in turn in a crisis derived from the crisis in psychology (e.g., see [13][14][15]). Our position (of Vygotsky and the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT)), considers creativity appears both in daily-ordinary experience (little C, i.e., little creativity), and special creativity (e.g., science and art) (big C, i.e., big creativity) (e.g., see [16][17][18][19]). ...
... This part represents the "educational" and pedagogical roles and potentials of aesthetics by elaborating meanings [36], by answering the problem when: an individual cannot grasp their conflicts, so, aesthetics reflect, elaborate, and explicitly represent human struggles and clarify to them. The model's levels reflect Vygotsky's dynamic approach of (a) intentions and background; (b) the form, and content of work, and (c) the recipient's interpretation (see [36], p. 246), as a contextual-a sociohistorical tendency away from the atemporal vision of mainstream research, giving the relative value of the creative content away from its absolute considerations [14]. These levels are crucial to robotics about sharing an "understanding of human goals and intentions and the ability to perceive and inject meaning into cultural artifacts and social interactions" ( [81], p. 32-33). ...
... This basic definition, while useful for testing and measurement, is largely incomplete. We don't learn anything from it about the individual or groups doing the creating or the nature of the processes and contexts that generate and integrate, respectively, these special outcomes (for a more extensive critique, see Glăveanu 2014). Most of all, it can mistakenly give the impression that creativity is mostly concerned with novelty, originality, and value. ...
... However, the standard definition of creativity presents also limitations, that point to the need for its extension. Indeed, as Glăveanu (2014) pointed out, we should not take accepted definitions for granted, but always strive for progress. The first problem is that, according to this definition, the existence of creativity is related to some form of positive judgment about the originality and effectiveness of a person, product, product, or environment. ...
... In psychology, creativity is usually defined as the capacity to produce novel, original work that fits with task constraints and has value in its context (for a recent overview, see Lubart and Thornhill-Miller 2019). This basic definition, though useful for testing and measurement, is largely incomplete, as it does not contain any information about the individual or groups doing the creating or the nature of physical and social contexts (Glăveanu 2014). Moreover, Corazza (2016) challenged this standard definition of creativity, arguing that as it focuses solely on the existence of an original and effective outcome, it misses the dynamics of the creative process, which is frequently associated with periods of creative inconclusiveness and limited occasions of creative achievements. ...
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This article addresses educational challenges posed by the future of work, examining “21st century skills”, their conception, assessment, and valorization. It focuses in particular on key soft skill competencies known as the “4Cs”: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. In a section on each C, we provide an overview of assessment at the level of individual performance, before focusing on the less common assessment of systemic support for the development of the 4Cs that can be measured at the institutional level (i.e., in schools, universities, professional training programs, etc.). We then present the process of official assessment and certification known as “labelization”, suggesting it as a solution both for establishing a publicly trusted assessment of the 4Cs and for promoting their cultural valorization. Next, two variations of the “International Institute for Competency Development’s 21st Century Skills Framework” are presented. The first of these comprehensive systems allows for the assessment and labelization of the extent to which development of the 4Cs is supported by a formal educational program or institution. The second assesses informal educational or training experiences, such as playing a game. We discuss the overlap between the 4Cs and the challenges of teaching and institutionalizing them, both of which may be assisted by adopting a dynamic interactionist model of the 4Cs—playfully entitled “Crea-Critical-Collab-ication”—for pedagogical and policy-promotion purposes. We conclude by briefly discussing opportunities presented by future research and new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
... This basic definition, while useful for testing and measurement, is largely incomplete. We don't learn anything from it about the individual or groups doing the creating or the nature of the processes and contexts that generate and integrate, respectively, these special outcomes (for a more extensive critique, see Glăveanu 2014). Most of all, it can mistakenly give the impression that creativity is mostly concerned with novelty, originality, and value. ...
... Selon le modèle théorique de Dietrich et Haider (2015), la créativité peut ainsi être considérée dans une perspective incarnée (ou enracinée) de la cognition (Barsalou, 2008 ;Matheson & Barsalou, 2018 ; dans laquelle la créativité « serait générée en simulant mentalement des futures actions possibles » (Matheson & Kenett, 2020, p. 2), reposant sur un système de connaissances qui pourrait également déterminer la portée des possibles (Binder et al., 2009 ;Zioga et al., 2020). Bien que la cognition incarnée soit un courant théorique développé et répandu, l'étude de la créativité dans cette perspective est relativement nouvelle, comme l'attestent les nombreux essais théoriques élaborés au cours des 10 dernières années (Baber et al., 2019 ;Choi & DiPaola, 2013 ;Glăveanu, 2014 ;Griffith, 2021 ;Kemp, 2018 ;Kristensen, 2004 La perspective incarnée de la créativité, ainsi que la proposition de Dietrich et Haider (2015) selon laquelle la créativité est liée au processus sensorimoteur, sont également appuyées par des études récentes en neuroimagerie suggérant que la créativité serait implémentée dans les régions motrices (Matheson et al., 2017 ;Murali & Händel, 2022 ;Tian et al., 2018 ;Wu et al., 2015). Comme nous l'avons mentionné au chapitre 4, les études en neuroimagerie ont notamment montré que les régions motrices, comme le cortex prémoteur, étaient utilisées pour simuler de multiples possibilités d'action (Pezzulo & Cisek, 2016 ;Watson & Buxbaum, 2015), qui seraient nécessaires pour générer de la créativité . ...
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Les technologies numériques sont omniprésentes dans le quotidien des enfants et adolescents. Les technologies interactives comme les tablettes tactiles semblent particulièrement attractives et faciles d’utilisation, apportant des bénéfices sur les apprentissages scolaires. La question se pose alors de savoir si ces avantages peuvent s’observer également pour d’autres formes d’activité ne faisant pas l’objet d’un apprentissage. Dans ce cadre, nous nous intéresserons aux activités créatives. Bien que la créativité soit conçue comme un phénomène de nature multifactorielle, les composantes sensorimotrices n’ont été que très peu intégrées dans le processus créatif. Pourtant, Dietrich et Haider (2015) ont récemment suggéré que le processus permettant de générer une idée créative emprunterait le même mécanisme que celui utilisé pour contrôler une action réalisée ou imaginée au travers de la prédiction sensorimotrice. Les afférences sensorielles étant centrales dans le contrôle de l’action sensorimotrice, elles pourraient être considérées comme des facteurs constitutifs de la créativité. Selon cette proposition, il pourrait être suggéré que modifier les afférences sensorielles disponibles dans une tâche pourrait moduler la créativité. Dans cette thèse, nous interrogeons cette relation entre créativité et sensorimotricité. Au travers de 4 études expérimentales, nous avons fait varier les afférences sensorielles disponibles dans une tâche créative en faisant dessiner des enfants et adolescents de 6 à 15 ans sur tablette tactile au doigt, au stylet, et sur papier au stylo. Les résultats montrent effectivement qu’augmenter les afférences sensorielles en utilisant le doigt sur tablette tactile améliore l’originalité à tout âge. En revanche, réduire les afférences sensorielles lors de l’utilisation du stylet n’amène pas aux mêmes effets sur les performances d’originalité selon l’âge des participants. Chez les enfants de 6-7 ans, utiliser le stylet sur tablette tactile ne modifie pas les performances d’originalité. Après 8 ans, les enfants réalisent des dessins plus originaux au stylet sur tablette tactile qu’au stylo sur papier. L’effet bénéfique du stylet sur les performances créatives à partir de cet âge pourrait s’expliquer par l’acquisition de la capacité à compenser la perte d’afférences sensorielles qui permet de maximiser les informations sensorielles, apportant ainsi des bénéfices sur l’originalité. Ces bénéfices de la tablette tactile s’observent également chez des adolescents qui, du fait de troubles du comportement, présentent des difficultés dans la mobilisation de leurs capacités cognitives. De plus, ces adolescents rapportent une préférence majoritaire pour l’utilisation du support tactile en comparaison du support papier, qui serait lié à une plus grande mobilisation sensorielle dans la production des gestes graphiques sur l’interface. Nous discutons de l’implication de ces résultats pour la nature du processus créatif et son développement, ainsi que l’utilisation d’afférences sensorielles pour aider les enfants et adolescents typiques, comme atypiques, à mobiliser plus efficacement leurs capacités cognitives.
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This study examined the effect of using critical reading in scientific texts on students’ academic achievement, science performance level and creativity. The study was conducted with 5th grade students in Ereğli, Zonguldak during the 2017-2018 academic year. The study group consisted of a total of 34 students, 17 in the experimental group and 17 in the control group. Activities based on critical reading were carried out with the experimental group, whereas traditional activities from the 5th grade science curriculum were employed with the control group. The “Multiple Choice Academic Achievement Test”, the “Science Performance Level Test” and the “Torrance Test of Creative Thinking” were administered to both groups as a pre-test prior to the study and as a post-test once the study was completed. The data were analyzed with the dependent and independent samples t-Test using the SPSS package program. The study results revealed a significant difference in science performance level and creativity between the experimental and control groups favoring the experimental group. However, there was no significant difference in academic achievement between the experimental and control groups. Critical reading practices can be used in science lessons to improve students’ high-level skills, and critical reading activities can be developed alongside scientific texts for multiple grade levels.
This chapter initiates the discussion of the philosophy of creativity in mathematics education. In our discussions, we follow the advice of Ernest (The philosophy of mathematics education today. Springer, 2018), who suggests that the point of departure for such an endeavor should be the critical examination of its fundamental problems. Accordingly, we begin by identifying and exploring several critical issues in the field of research in creativity in mathematics education: the multitude of definitions of creativity in our profession, the value of creativity, the problems occurring during the interphase between curriculum design and facilitation of creativity in mathematics classrooms, and creativity and rationality and the measurability of creativity. We conclude by introducing a new definition and theory of creativity through the emergence of the Aha! moment, which to some degree responds to the issues raised in this chapter.
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Emerging empirical evidence supports play's potential to stimulate and foster scientific creativity. Focusing on how play relates to scientific creativity in adulthood, this review synthesizes the current state of knowledge in four areas: the play element in scientific research, the playfulness of scientists, mechanisms through which play affects scientific creativity, and environmental factors key to the play-to-create process in scientists' work. The review highlights several limitations hindering further research development in this area. Specifically, existing studies: (a) are largely qualitative and focus on descriptive analysis of the forms and/or select aspects of play, (b) do not sufficiently consider the unique characteristics and processes of scientific research, and (c) decontextualize the creative process by separating the player-creator from the environment. Building on this analysis, the author clarifies the conceptualization of play, playfulness, and scientific creativity, differentiates between creative and recreative play in relation to core scientific activities, and identifies useful conceptual and measurement tools to facilitate future domain-specific empirical studies of play and scientific creativity. Collectively, these insights advance a new integrative theoretical framework—the play-to-create model—to encourage and guide systematic and contextualized investigations of how play, playfulness, creative processes, and the environment interact to generate creative scientific outcomes.
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This article explores the reported use of conceptual combination in Stephen R. Donaldson's development of the idea for his award-winning fantasy series, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Donaldson's (1991) own account is used to illustrate the general principles of a creative cognition approach to understanding creativity as well as the more specific role of the basic process of conceptual combination. The links between Donaldson's and others' anecdotal accounts of creativity and laboratory investigations are assessed. The article concludes with an argument for a "convergence" approach in which information from anecdotal accounts and laboratory studies is combined to provide a more complete picture of creative functioning than either approach alone can offer.
Explaining Creativity is an accessible introduction to the latest scientific research on creativity. In the last 50 yearss, psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists have increasingly studied creativity, and we now know more about creativity that at any point in history. Explaining Creativity considers not only arts like painting and writing, but also science, stage performance, and business innovation. Until about a decade ago, creativity researchers tended to focus on highly valued activities like fine art painting and Nobel prize winning science. Sawyer brings this research up to date by including movies, music videos, cartoons, videogames, hypertext fiction, and computer technology. For example, this is the first book on creativity to include studies of performance and improvisation. Sawyer draws on the latest research findings to show the importance of collaboration and context in all of these creative activities. Today's science of creativity is interdisciplinary; in addition to psychological studies of creativity, Explaining Creativity includes research by anthropologists on creativity in non-Western cultures, and research by sociologists about the situations, contexts, and networks of creative activity. Explaining Creativity brings these approaches together within the sociocultural approach to creativity pioneered by Howard Becker, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Howard Gardner. The sociocultural approach moves beyond the individual to consider the social and cultural contexts of creativity, emphasizing the role of collaboration and context in the creative process.
InThe Courage to Create,1 Rollo May defines creativity, in its “authentic” form, as “the process of bringing something new into being.”2 In the course of his discussion, he considers several kinds of experiences which he claims to be essential moments of the creative process: “encounter,” “courage,” and a “drive toward form,” among others. Beyond this, there is little attempt to explore the presuppositions and the complexities of the concept of “bringing something new into being.”