What is Creativity?


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Module 2 of Creative Modeling for Tech Visionaries. Discusses different theories and definitions of creativity.

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What is Creativity?

  1. 1. Creative Modeling for Technology Visionaries Qualitative & Simplified Quantitative Modeling for Product Creation Module 2: What is Creativity? David E. Goldberg University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Illinois 61801 [email_address]
  2. 2. “Creative” is Common Term <ul><li>“Creative” and “creativity” commonly used: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>He/she is creative . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That was a creative design. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wasn’t that a creative presentation that was? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He/she has creative ideas. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But not always clear what we mean. </li></ul><ul><li>What is creativity? Explore different senses of the term. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Roadmap <ul><li>What is creativity? Class’s viewpoint. </li></ul><ul><li>Dictionary definition. </li></ul><ul><li>Aside on linguistic rigidity and naiveté </li></ul><ul><li>Other views: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>C as individual thought process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C as group brainstorming. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C as socially enabled/mediated process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C as history. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C as generative vision. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C as heuristic inventive process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C as eliminating resistance/blocks. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What is Creativity to You? <ul><li>What does it mean to be creative? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are creative people? Exemplars. </li></ul><ul><li>What do they do? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they think differently? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they act differently? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you know creativity when you see it? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Web Definitions: Creativity <ul><li>Not the right answer. </li></ul><ul><li>A “standard” answer. Where do dictionary definitions come from? </li></ul><ul><li>Web definitions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ability to solve problems that are worth solving. It is the ability to create knowledge. Creativity is subject-specific: it is the meta-knowledge of how to solve a specific class of problems. So there is no such thing as “raw”, undifferentiated creativity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The experience of thinking, reacting, and working in an imaginative and idiosyncratic way which is characterized by a high degree of innovation and originality, divergent thinking, and risk taking. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Merriam-Webster: Creative <ul><li>Main Entry: 1cre·a·tive Pronunciation: krE-'A-tiv, 'krE-&quot; Function: adjective 1 : marked by the ability or power to create : given to creating <the creative impulse> 2 : having the quality of something created rather than imitated : IMAGINATIVE <the creative arts> 3 : managed so as to get around legal or conventional limits < creative financing>; also : deceptively arranged so as to conceal or defraud < creative accounting> </li></ul>
  7. 7. Merriam-Webster: Create <ul><li>Main Entry: 1cre·ate Pronunciation: krE-'At, 'krE-&quot; Function: verb Inflected Form(s): cre·at·ed ; cre·at·ing Etymology: Middle English, from Latin creatus, past participle of creare; akin to Latin crescere to grow -- more at CRESCENT transitive verb 1 : to bring into existence <God created the heaven and the earth -- Genesis 1:1(Authorized Version)> 2 a : to invest with a new form, office, or rank <was created a lieutenant> b : to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior <her arrival created a terrible fuss> < create new jobs> 3 : CAUSE , OCCASION <famine creates high food prices> 4 a : to produce through imaginative skill < create a painting> b : DESIGN < creates dresses> intransitive verb 1 : to make or bring into existence something new 2 : to set up a scoring opportunity in basketball < create off the dribble> </li></ul>
  8. 8. Aside on Linguistic Rigidity/Naiveté <ul><li>Math, science & engineering training encourages precision. </li></ul><ul><li>Look for “the” definition of a term. </li></ul><ul><li>Story: Use of the term “swap.” </li></ul><ul><li>Terms are like overloaded operators in programming languages. </li></ul><ul><li>Different meanings in different contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>X is Y versus X as Y. </li></ul><ul><li>Creativity demands flexibility & associative power. </li></ul><ul><li>Rigidity not good, early in the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Weak perspectivism: Useful to think in terms of perspective of others. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Creativity as Individual Thought <ul><li>Early classic in creativity literature. </li></ul><ul><li>Wallas, G. (1926). The art of thought. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. </li></ul><ul><li>Professor of Political Science, University of London. </li></ul><ul><li>Chapters: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Psych & Thought </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consciousness & will </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thought before art </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stages of control </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. 4 Stages of Control <ul><li>preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Incubation </li></ul><ul><li>Illumination </li></ul><ul><li>verification. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Preparation <ul><li>“Our mind is not likely to give us a clear answer to any particular problem unless we set it a clear question, and we are more likely to notice the significance of any new piece of evidence, or new association of ideas, if we have formed a definite conception of a case to be proved or disproved.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Incubation <ul><li>First part, “…we do not voluntarily or consciously think on a particular problem” </li></ul><ul><li>Second, “..is the positive fact that a series of unconscious and involuntary mental events take place during that period.” </li></ul><ul><li>We can operate in the preparation phase of a thought, while in the incubation phase of another, to make more effective use of time. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Illumination <ul><li>The proverbial “light bulb” or “click” as the idea come to fruition. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I find it convenient to use the term ‘Intimation’ for that moment in the Illumination stage when our fringe-consciousness of an association-train is in the state of rising consciousness which indicates that the fully conscious flash of success is coming.” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Verification <ul><li>Period where the validity of an idea is tested. </li></ul><ul><li>The new idea is expounded upon to come up with the final solution. </li></ul><ul><li>Whole process may iterate. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Creativity as Group Brainstorming <ul><li>Much creative activity takes place in groups or teams. </li></ul><ul><li>Social rather than individual process. </li></ul><ul><li>Osbornian brainstorming: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice </li></ul></ul>Alex Osborn (1888-1966)
  16. 16. Day in a Life of a Meeting <ul><li>Trying to solve a problem, what happens? </li></ul><ul><li>Unproductive loop: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some makes a suggestion. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Someone else says why that can’t be done. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go to step 1. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Meeting going nowhere, so leader announces solution he/she wanted to begin with. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Structured Brainstorming <ul><li>Overcomes these problems through meeting process design. </li></ul><ul><li>Osborn (1953) developed brainstorming technique. </li></ul><ul><li>Many variants, but principle is sound. </li></ul><ul><li>Create first, criticize later. </li></ul><ul><li>Much in common with good writing and presentation prep. </li></ul><ul><li>Need props, roles, and process. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Socially Mediated/Enabled Process <ul><li>Creativity as a complex social psychological phenomenon. </li></ul><ul><li>Two major proponents of this view: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Theresa Amabile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Amabile’s Definition <ul><li>Teresa Amabile, Social Psychology of Creativity, Springer, 1983. </li></ul><ul><li>Creativity: A response will be judged as creative to the extent that (a) it is both a novel and appropriate, useful, correct, or valuable response to the task at hand and (b) the task is heuristic rather than algorithmic. </li></ul>Teresa Amabile
  20. 20. Creativity: Flow & the Psychology of Discovery and Invention <ul><li>Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: HarperCollins. </li></ul><ul><li>Was professor of psychology at University of Chicago. Now at Claremont College. </li></ul>Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (b. 1934)
  21. 21. Creativity Too Big a Term <ul><li>Three senses: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Those who express unusual thoughts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Those who experience world in novel ways. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Those who have changed culture in some important respect. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Two other terms: “talent” and “genius.” </li></ul>
  22. 22. Process <ul><li>1990-1995 Videotaped interviews with 91 exceptional individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Make a difference to culture and >60 years old. </li></ul><ul><li>275 contacts. 1/3 declined, 1/3 accepted, 1/3 did not respond </li></ul><ul><li>14 Nobel prizes. </li></ul><ul><li>Rejections as interesting. </li></ul><ul><li>Too good to be true? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Creative Process <ul><li>Where is creativity? </li></ul><ul><li>The creative personality </li></ul><ul><li>The work of creativity </li></ul><ul><li>The flow of creativity </li></ul><ul><li>Creative surroundings </li></ul>
  24. 24. Systems Model of Big C Creativity <ul><li>3 elements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domain: symbolic rules and procedures. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Field: individuals who are gatekeepers to the domain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Person: the creative one. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Creativity defined: Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Consequences of the Theory <ul><li>Not a personal theory. Domain + Field + Person important. </li></ul><ul><li>Must know the domain. </li></ul><ul><li>Must take place in extant domain-field. </li></ul><ul><li>Field acts as filter (consider art or music). </li></ul>
  26. 26. Creative Personality <ul><li>Genetic predisposition doesn’t hurt. </li></ul><ul><li>Curiosity, wonder, and interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Access to a domain. </li></ul><ul><li>Access to a field: Bottlenecks. </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity as key. </li></ul>
  27. 27. 10 Dimensions of Creative Complexity <ul><li>Physical energy versus quiet at rest </li></ul><ul><li>Smart and naïve </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplined and playful. </li></ul><ul><li>Fantasy versus reality. </li></ul><ul><li>Extroversion versus Introversion </li></ul><ul><li>Humble and proud </li></ul><ul><li>Masculine and feminine. </li></ul><ul><li>Conservative and rebellious </li></ul><ul><li>Objective and passionate. </li></ul><ul><li>Suffering and enjoyment </li></ul>
  28. 28. Work of Creativity <ul><li>Extended Wallas framework: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, elaboration. </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: personal, domain requirements, social pressures. </li></ul><ul><li>Presented versus discovered problems </li></ul><ul><li>Incubation as the mysterious time. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Theories of Incubation <ul><li>Freudian: pursuit of acceptable versus unacceptable sexual desire. </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive theories: associative and parallel processing. </li></ul><ul><li>Field, domain, and unconscious thought: Need to take stand against received wisdom. </li></ul>
  30. 30. The Flow of Creativity <ul><li>The joy of invention. </li></ul><ul><li>Flow experience: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clear goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Immediate feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Balance between challenge and skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Actions and awareness merged. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extractions excluded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No worry of failure. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-consciousness disappears. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distortion of time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activity feeds on itself (autotelic). </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Pleasure in the Right Things <ul><li>Flow and complexity. </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle’s definition of the good. </li></ul><ul><li>Living a life of intricate complexity. </li></ul><ul><li>Richness of variety. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Creative Surroundings <ul><li>Place matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Pager experiments: Most creative when walking, driving, or swimming. Semiautomatic state. </li></ul><ul><li>Complex sensory stimuli as diversion. </li></ul><ul><li>Rhythm: patterns of work can be important. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Bottom Line <ul><li>Creativity is a Rorschach test. </li></ul><ul><li>Defined for ourselves. </li></ul><ul><li>“Standard” definitions. </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistic naiveté, rigidity & perspectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Individual  group  social process. </li></ul><ul><li>Next up: Historical, then micro-perspectives & some exercise. </li></ul>