One can define creativity as the mental phenomena, skills and/or tools capable of originating (and subsequently developing) innovation, inspiration or insight. Pop psychology generally may associate it with right or forehead brain activity or even specifically with lateral thinking.

For many people, the word creativity most immediately conjours up associations with artistic endeavours and with writing; some have also linked creativity with science since at least the heyday of the muses of Ancient Greece.

The psychologist Robert Sternberg has proposed to apply the name creatology to scientific studies of creativity.


The scope of creativity

Within the different modes of artistic expression, one can postulate a continuum extending from "interpretation" to "innovation". Established artistic movements and genres pull practitioners to the "interpretation" end of the scale, whereas original thinkers strive towards the "innovation" pole. Note that we conventionally expect some "creative" people (dancers, actors, orchestra-players ...) to perform (interpret) while allowing others (writers, painters, composers ...) more freedom to express the new and the different.

Today, creativity forms in some eyes the core activity of a growing section of the global economy — the so-called "creative industries" — capitalistically generating (generally non-tangible) wealth through the creation and exploitation of intellectual property or through the provision of creative services.

The word "creativity" can convey an implication of constructing novelty without relying on any existing constituent components (ex nihilo - compare creationism). Contrast alternative theories, for example:

  • artistic inspiration, which posits the transmission of visions from divine sources such as the Muses. Compare invention
  • artistic evolution, which stresses obeying established ("classical") rules and imitating or appropriating to produce subtly different but unshockingly understandable work

Professional "creatives" do not have a monopoly on the concept of creativity. Problem solving in general may require a creative mind. Employers may value lawyers, accountants, people in sales, and others more highly if such people can use a "creative" approach to their work. The phrases "thinking outside the box" and "thinking outside the square" express this idea.

Analysing creativity and creatives

One can analyse creativity by where it arises. Different ways exist whereby something creative can happen:

  1. Generating something wholly new
  2. Combining ideas in a new way
  3. Finding new uses for existing ideas
  4. Taking existing ideas to new (different) people
  5. Combinations of the above

The first of these occurs comparatively rarely.

In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler (1964 and various imprints) lists three types of creative individual, the Artist, the Sage and the Jester. Paul Birch and Brian Clegg (Crash Course in Creativity, 2002) have called the three types of creativity that result "aaahhh", "ah ha", and "ha ha". The Artist creates beauty or challenge (aaahhh). The Sage creates ideas or solutions (ah ha) and the Jester creates humour (ha ha). Believers in this trinity hold all three elements necessary in business and can identify them in all in "truly creative" companies as well.

Attitudes to creativity

Creatitivity, rather like motherhood and apple-pie, gets much praised in principle, but much derided in fact. Popular legend sees creativity serve as a refuge for the outsider with imagination - a stable society prefers the majority of its citizens to respect convention and not to "rock the boat". Similarly, a manager of employees may sing the praises of creativity and innovation while showing reluctance to implement radically different and potentially disruptive ways of operation.

Some of the ambivalent attitude to creativity may stem from seeing the creative process as parallelling or suggesting the ingesting of drugs to generate visions; or simply from viewing creativity as eccentric behaviour outside of mainstream conventional mores and habits.

Genrich Altshuller introduced approaching creativity as an exact science with TRIZ in the 1950s.

Fostering creativity

Some see the conventional system of schooling as "stifling" of creativity and attempt (particularly in the pre-school/kindergarten and early school years) to provide a creativity-friendly, rich, imagination-fostering environment for young children. Compare Waldorf School.

The professional community (which professional community?) has a consensus that one can learn to become more "creative". Several different researchers have proposed several different approaches to prop up this idea, ranging from psychological-cognitive, such as:

to the highly structured such as:

both developed by the Russian scientist Genrich Altshuller. See also: creativity techniques.

Some people even believe that one can "learn" creativity by practice.

Periods and Personalities

4th century of the Christian Era

See also:

External links

eo:Kreivo nl:Creativiteit pt:Criatividade simple:Creativity sv:Kreativitet fr:Créativité


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