Creativity: typologies, dimensions and phases of the creative process

Creativity is a psychological phenomenon of great importance both individually and collectively. We need creativity when we seek to solve a daily problem at the individual level and it also helps us at the collective level, in science, art or technology.

Every advance of humanity has its origin in a creative idea. Likewise, unfortunately, creativity has been present in many of the most despicable and aberrant situations in human history. For better or for worse, creativity sets us apart from the rest of the beings on this planet and is perhaps the most defining characteristic of human beings.

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Some integrative proposals to define creativity

The main obstacle to the study of creativity at the scientific level is to reach a consensus on a definition that appeals to all who seek it in various disciplines. Perhaps one of the most complete definitions that has been obtained so far is that of Vernon (1989): “Creativity is the person’s ability to generate new and original ideas, Discoveries, restructurings, inventions or artistic objects, which are accepted by experts as valuable elements in the field of science, technology or art. Originality and utility or value are properties of the creative product, although these properties may vary over time. “

With a rather abstract approach, some authors define it as “the capacity to generate new, original and appropriate ideas” (Sternberg and Lubart, 1991). It would be understood by something original which is relatively infrequent, although it is appropriate to speak of degrees of originality, rather than seeing it as something absolute in the sense of “all or nothing”. In the fact that something (idea or product) is appropriate, one considers that it is when with its proposal it solves an important problem or it supposes a decisive intermediate step to obtain greater success. Utility is also a matter of degree.

Creativity as a set of dimensions

Other authors have tried to be more precise in their definitions, approaching creativity from four levels of analysis. This is what is traditionally called the 4 P creativity.

1. The process (process)

Creativity understood as a mental process (or a set of processes) which results in the production of original and adaptive ideas. This is the perspective adopted by cognitive psychology, which has focused on the study of different cognitive operations such as problem solving, imagination, intuition, the use of heuristics (mental strategies) and insight (spontaneous revelation).

Some theories which have dealt with the different states of the creative process are inspired by Wallas’ initial proposition (1926). Other authors have devoted themselves to trying to identify the components of creative thinking, as is the case with the studies of Mumford and colleagues (1991; 1997).

2. The product

Creativity can be conceptualized as a characteristic of a productA product is understood to mean a work of art, a scientific discovery or a technological invention, among others. Usually, a creative product is considered original, that is, it manages to combine novelty, complexity and surprise. In addition, it is adaptive, which means that it is capable of solving certain environmental problems. In addition, depending on the field in which it is found, the creative product is linked to characteristics such as beauty, truth, elegance and virtuosity (Runco, 1996).

3. Person (personality)

Here, creativity is understood as a trait or profile of personality and / or intelligence characteristic of a particular person. It is an individual quality or ability, so some individuals have more of it than others (Barron, 1969).

Individual creativity is one of the objects of study of differential psychologyHence, several traits have been found that seem to coincide in creative people. These include, among others: intrinsic motivation (not needing external incentives to create), breadth of interests (great curiosity in different areas), openness to experience (desire for experiment and high tolerance for failure) and autonomy (Helson, 1972). Today, personality is understood as another of the influences on creative behavior, and not as something that manages to fully explain this behavior (Feist and Barron, 2003).

4. The environment (please or press):

The environment or climate in which creativity emerges is crucial. By combining certain elements of the situation, we have succeeded in facilitating or blocking the process of creation. Creativity often appears when there are opportunities to explore, when the individual is gifted with independence in his work and the environment favors originality (Amabile, 1990).

In addition, the environment is essential in the assessment of creativity because, in the end, this will be what will determine whether the product can be considered creative or not.

Interaction between creative elements

Obviously, these four elements of creativity are totally linked in practice. It is to be expected that a creative product will be generated by a creative person, applying creative processes, in an environment conducive to the development of such a product and, possibly, in an environment prepared for its evaluation. In the 4 Ps, recently two new ones were added, so now we are generally talking about the 6 P of creativity. The fifth P corresponds to persuasion (Simonton, 1990) and the sixth to potential (Runco, 2003).

If we rephrase the question what is creativity ?, we will get, as we have seen, several answers depending on where we focus: the person, the product, the process, the environment , persuasion or potential. We could also evoke the creativity of geniuses, that of young children, or that of anyone in their daily life, whatever their age or genius.

So far, most definitions focus on three defining elements or characteristics of the creative fact: the originality of the idea, its quality and its adequacy, That is to say according to what it seeks to resolve. Therefore, it can be said that a creative response is a response that is new, appropriate and relevant at the same time.

Creativity as greatness

Another alternative approach differentiates between different levels of creativity, approaching it as a magnitude rather than viewing it as a set of fixed characteristics. The range of breadth of creativity ranges from minor or mundane “Little-c” (more subjective) creativity to greater creativity, mature creativity or “Big-C” eminence (more objective).

The first worldly creativity, it refers to the daily individual creativity that each of us uses to solve a problem. It is part of human nature and materializes into something new to the individual, or to their immediate environment, but is rarely recognized or has remarkable social value (Richards, 2007). It is a category of great interest for the analysis of factors influencing common creativity at home, at school or in the workplace (Cropley, 2011).

the second it has to do with the performance and products of eminent personalities in certain fields. It is these characters who demonstrate a high performance and / or manage to transform a field of knowledge or social, for example: Charles Darwin, Newton, Mozart or Luther King.

Mini-c and Pro-c

If we regard the breadth of creativity as something dichotomous (white or black), we will encounter the problem of not being able to identify the nuances that occur between the Little-c and Big-C category. That is, to speak of two types of creativity, mundane or eminent, does not represent the actual distribution of the characteristic to the population because between the two extends a range of possibilities. In an attempt to overcome the limits of dichotomous categorization, Beghetto and Kaufman (2009) propose to include two new categories, Mini-c and Pro-c, thus expanding to four the categories which would attempt to frame the phenomenon of creativity.

Mini-c creativity is the most subjective form of all creativity classes. it refers to the new knowledge that an individual acquires by internally interpreting their personal experiences. In research, it is useful for understanding personality aspects and the development of creativity, helping to explain it in young children.

The Pro-c category represents a level of evolution and effort that begins in the Little-c but it is not the Big-C, which helps to understand the area that extends between the two. It corresponds to the creativity linked to the expertise of a professional field. Needless to say, not all professionals who are experts in a field get this type of creativity. Those who do take about 10 years of preparation in their field to become “experts”. To become a Pro, we will have to prepare a cocktail that contains high doses of knowledge, motivation and performance.

Creativity as a continuum

Although with four categories we can better cover the phenomenon of creativity, they are still rare to capture their complex nature. This is why some authors prefer to treat creativity as a continuum.

Cohen (2011) proposes his “continuum of adaptive creative behaviors”. this author considers the interaction between the person and the environment as fundamental, from an adaptive point of view, Analyze creativity. Its continuum ranges from the creativity of young children to the creativity of prominent adults, establishing seven levels or stages. It offers some influential variables for the development of creativity along the continuum, such as: purpose, novelty, value, speed and structure.

The works mentioned are only a brief example of the effort made, especially since 1950, to define creativity from multiple spheres of knowledge, although we have concentrated here on work in the field of psychology.

Across all the disciplines, we establish some points of agreement when it comes to establishing what can be comprehended through creativity and what cannot, although we are still deciphering the conundrum. and to establish a truth concerning this phenomenon, which is unlikely. become absolute, as is often the case with many other constructs in the social sciences, but which this will help us to understand a little better the world around us and our own inner world.

Bibliographical references:

  • Amabile, TM (1990). Inside you, without you: the social psychology of creativity and beyond. In MA Runco and RS Albert (Eds.), Theories of Creativity (pp. 61-91). Newbury Park, California: Sage.
  • Barron, F. (1969). Creative person and creative process. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Beghetto, RA and Kaufman, JC (2009). Intellectual Estuaries: Connecting Learning and Creativity in Advanced University Programs. Journal of Advanced Academics (20), 296-324.
  • Cohen, LM (2011). Adaptation, adaptation and creativity. In MA Runco and SR Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Creativity (2nd ed., Pp 9-17). London: Elseiver.
  • Cropley, AJ (2011). Definitions of creativity. In Encyclopedia of Creativity (pp. 358-369). London: Elsevier.
  • Feist, GJ and Barron, FX (2003). Prediction of creativity from early to late adulthood: intellect, potential and personality. Personality Research Journal.
  • Helson, R. (1972). Personality of women with imaginative and artistic interests: the role of macularity, originality and other characteristics in their creativity. Creative behavior journals.
  • Mumford, MD, Baughman, WA, Maher, MA, Constance, DP and Supinski, EP (1997). Measures based on creative problem-solving processes: IV. Combination of categories. Creativity Research Journal.
  • Mumford, MD, Mobley, MI, Uhlman, CE, Reiter-Palmon, R., and Doares, LM (1991). Analytical models of creative capacity processes. Creativity Research Journal.
  • Richards, R. (2007). Daily creativity and new visions of human nature: psychological, social and spiritual perspectives. American Psychological Association. Washington DC.
  • Runco, MA (2003). Education for creative potential. Scandinavian educational magazine.
  • Runco, MA (1996). Personal creativity: problems of definition and development. New indications for the development of the child.
  • Simonton, DK (1990). History, chemistry, psychology and genius: intellectual autobiography of historiometry. In MA Runco and RS Albert (editions.), Theories of Creativity. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Sternberg, RJ and Lubart, TI (1991). An investment theory on creativity and its development. Human Development, 34 (1).
  • Vernon, P. (1989). The problem of nature in creativity. In JA Glober, RR Ronning and CR Reynols (Edits.), Creativity Handbook. New York: Ple.
  • Wallas, G. (1926). The art of thinking. New York: Harcourt Brace and World.

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