While there are many definitions of creativity in the literature and online there is partial agreement, at least within broad fields of study. Psychologists generally agree creativity is:
“…the development of a novel product, idea or problem solution that is of value to the individual and/or the larger social group…” (Hennessey, B. and Amabile, T. (2010) Creativity. The Annual Review of Psychology 61:569-98 accessed online 18 September, 2019 at https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100416, p572)
So the psychologists say that creativity must have two things: novelty and value. This contrasts with many artists’ definitions of creativity which tend to omit the judgement of value or worth. For example, to bring into being or the production of novelty. One of the more ridiculous definitions seen says that creativity is using the mind to create something. This doesn’t help us much as it doesn’t say that to create means. That’s a bit like defining rain as that stuff that happens when it’s raining.
Business people often define creativity as coming up with something that is directly, or indirectly responsible for improving profit. Other definitions use comparisons to clarify. De Brabandere and Iny in their book “Thinking in New Boxes” (p22) define to create as:
“coming up with something that otherwise would not exist…”.
They give examples such as a Beatles song, a Mozart symphony and the design of a new skyscraper. They go on to compare this this to a definition of “to discover” as uncovering something, already in existence, for the first time. For example, an astronomer finding a new star. They then embark on the rather fraught path of defining invention as uncovering, for the first time something new but inevitable. Such as a telescope, a compass or calculus. This is fraught due to the determination of inevitability.
Research into creativity has been reported in several disciplines or fields. While there is cross-over between the fields there are some aspects of the research that are specific to each. The psychologists study many aspects of creativity and the processes associated with it. The neuroscientists also look at the processes but take a more anatomical view. The business/management literature looks at the role of creativity in business, and in particular innovation and ideation (a term that will be defined later in this module). The Education literature obviously is concerned with creativity in our systems of education. The fine arts literature similarly looks at creativity in the production of works of art. Last, but by no means least, and probably the most prolific body of literature concerned with creativity is that defined as ‘self-help’. The self-help literature is about creativity and personal development, well-being and happiness.« Back to Glossary Index