Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Loading in …3
1 of 46

Psychology Of Creativity - London IA 30.03.10



Download to read offline

A basic and pragmatic introduction to the psychology of creativity, from empirical research. PDF with notes: full academic references included in the notes.

Related Books

Free with a 30 day trial from Scribd

See all

Psychology Of Creativity - London IA 30.03.10

  1. the briefest of introductions to the psychology of creativity @clurr Monday, 5 April 2010
  2. this is [a tiny part of] the science bit Monday, 5 April 2010 Meaning empirical studies, and interesting theories that build on empirical work. Note that this is a massive field. I’ve tried to pick some useful and pragmatic bits but this is only the briefest of introductions to a huge field.
  3. image: it’s not about this Monday, 5 April 2010 It’s not about De Bono. The empirical evidence for his approaches is actually very weak. c.f. "Equally damaging to the scientific study of creativity, in our view, has been the takeover of the field, in the popular mind, by those who follow what might be referred to as a pragmatic approach. Those taking this approach have been concerned primarily with developing creativity, secondarily with understanding it, but almost not at all with testing the validity of their ideas about it." Sternberg continues, "Perhaps the foremost proponent of this approach is Edward De Bono, whose work on lateral thinking and other aspects of creativity has had what appears to be considerable commercial success." Handbook of Creativity, Robert J. Sternberg
  4. it’s totally not about this* *don’t even get me started... Monday, 5 April 2010 Nor is it about left brains and right brains: there’s no basis in neuroscience for this idea at all. All cognitive processes of any complexity require both hemispheres to work together in an integrated way and there’s no such thing as a left or right brained person or thinking. It’s acceptable as a metaphor for balancing logical deduction with intuition. But that’s *it*. for more on why this is hooey, see:
  5. the certainty of pseudoscience can be seductive (well, maybe) “unique genetic memories and messages of harmony and peace are stored in algae” Monday, 5 April 2010 The reason those theories are successful is because certainty sells, especially to desperate people. Even if it does require you to eat algae.
  6. empirical science tends to offer discourse as much as certainties some of it may sound obvious :) but i hope this provides some critical basis for thinking about creativity Monday, 5 April 2010 Right, let’s crack on. For those who are interested in the academic references, you can see them in the notes when this is uploaded to Slideshare.
  7. what is creativity anyway? Monday, 5 April 2010 Lots of scientific papers actually don’t define it. [images: Gareth Pugh,]
  8. guilford’s model of creative ability is old but still often used as a theoretical basis: • fluency - the ability to produce lots of ideas • flexibility - ability to produce lots of different types of ideas • originality - ability to produce unusual ideas • elaboration - the ability to develop those ideas in the real world, it’s not just about having ideas. they must be innovative but also appropriate Monday, 5 April 2010 Guilford, J.P. (1950) Creativity, American Psychologist,Volume 5, Issue 9, p444-454. In experiments, these are often measured by how many uses you can think of for a brick. in the real world, ideas must also be appropriate
  9. one relatively simple model defines the creative process as: finding solving implementing good problems those problems solutions Monday, 5 April 2010 Basadur, M.S., Runco, M.A. and Vega, L.A. (2000) Understanding how creative thinking skills, attitudes and behaviors work together: A causal process model. The Journal of Creative Behavior,Vol. 34, No. 2, 77-100. This is one of the simpler statements and I think no less effective for it.
  10. one relatively simple model defines the creative process as: finding solving implementing good problems those problems solutions it’s not just about having ideas Monday, 5 April 2010 Note that it’s not just about having lots of ideas. As one of these researchers points out, in real life much of the challenge is about figuring out the problem in the first place... and the hard work of actually making the idea happen.
  11. “creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. “art is knowing which ones to keep.” scott adams Monday, 5 April 2010
  12. psychologists tend to look at creativity in terms of one of the 4 Ps: • product - looking at the outputs of creativity • process - how do people produce creative products? • person - what personal characteristics tend to produce creativity? • press - the environment, and how this can influence creativity Monday, 5 April 2010 Psychologists have tended to study one of these four. Some have looked at how the last two interact. The first one is interesting but tends to focus on great works, so doesn’t tell us much about everyday creativity. The second is very interesting, but, for our purposes, inconclusive, though Kevin Dunbar’s study of biologists shows (again) that there’s a lot of hard work involved (Dunbar, K. (1997)*). *How scientists think: Online creativity and conceptual change in science. In T.B. Ward, S.M. Smith, & S.Vaid (Eds.) Conceptual structures and processes: Emergence, discovery and Change. APA Press. Washington DC). Today we’ll focus mostly on the last two. [image: bordersmedia]
  13. there are lots of interesting topics... tips for enhancing creativity why are we creative? children and education the unconscious madness intelligence motivation personality environment organisational creativity measuring creativity general vs domain-specific creativity Monday, 5 April 2010 And not much time.
  14. ...but for lack of time we’ll cover: why are we creative tips for enhancing creativity children and education the unconscious madness intelligence motivation personality environment organisational creativity measuring creativity general vs domain-specific creativity Monday, 5 April 2010
  15. personality Monday, 5 April 2010 There’s not much we can do to change this one but people tend to like to hear about personality stuff. Whilst I’m no fan of psychometric testing at work, being aware of ways in which people may differ can be helpful in creating an environment they feel comfortable in.
  16. openness to experience inventive / curious vs. cautious / conservative conscientiousness efficient / organised vs. easy-going / careless extroversion outgoing / energetic vs. shy / withdrawn the big five agreeableness friendly / compassionate vs. competitive / outspoken neuroticism sensitive / nervous vs. secure /confident Monday, 5 April 2010 The Big Five is the personality model with the best evidence base. First identified by e.g. T upes, E. C., & Christal, R. E. (1961). Recurrent personality factors based on trait ratings. USAF ASD Tech. Rep. No. 61-97, Lackland Airforce Base, TX: U. S. Air Force (but described by many others).
  17. openness to experience openness to fantasy - good imagination aesthetics - artistic interests feelings - experiencing and valuing feelings actions - trying new things, having many interests ideas - curious, smart, likes challenges values - unconventional,, liberal conscientiousness extroversion agreeableness neuroticism strong +ve correlation some +ve correlation Monday, 5 April 2010 Of the big 5, the personality factor most associated with creativity is openness to experience across many, many studies. See e.g. McCrae, Robert R, Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.Vol 52(6), Jun 1987, 1258-1265. Openness to experience is split into openness to fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions , ideas, and values (unconventional, liberal). Actions, values and feelings are less strongly related than the others - you can be calm or conservative and still creative, and liking to try new things doesn’t necessarily translate into creating new things. This is related to work on sensation seeking* - e.g. Zuckerman - dimensions of sensation seeking are boredom susceptibility (intolerance for being bored), disinhibition (taking social risks like heavy alcohol use. one night stands) experience seeking (needing new experiences, can include art or museums) and thrill and adventure seeking (physical risks, extreme sports ). (* Zuckerman, Marvin; Kolin, Elizabeth A.; Price, Leah; Zoob, Ina. , Development of a sensation-seeking scale. Journal of Consulting Psychology.Vol 28(6), Dec 1964, 477-482)
  18. openness to experience conscientiousness ambition discipline responsibility self-control extroversion agreeableness neuroticism -ve correlation for arts but not science Monday, 5 April 2010 Conscientiousness is generally associated with positive work outcomes, like showing up for work on time and getting things done by deadlines. But there’s evidence that in some domains (e.g. art, possibly design and advertising) G J Feist (1998): A meta-analysis of personality in scientific and artistic creativity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, vol 2, No 4, 290-309. other factors are more complex - scientists tend to be conscientious to some extent - if you lack a certain level of conscientiousness you won’t make it as a scientist at all. However, more conscientiousness isn’t necessarily better - the most creative scientists are no more conscientious. Perhaps creativity provides shortcuts for some types of work which less intelligent people can achieve through sheer effort.
  19. creativity WIN conscientiousness FAIL Monday, 5 April 2010 Peter Saville’s FAC 001 publicity poster for the first Factory night in Manchester in 1978 may have been seminal, but was effectively useless for marketing. It was famously delivered on the night of the event itself because Saville spent so long trying to find the perfect shade of yellow.
  20. one study of advertising and design workers found: • a negative correlation between creativity and conscientiousness • a positive correlation with neuroticism, extraversion and openness to experience Monday, 5 April 2010 Far be it from me to pander to stereotypes about web designers. G A Gelade (1997): Creativity in Conflict: The Personality of the Commercial Creative, The Journal of Genetic Psychology, Issue:Volume 158, Number 1 / March 1997, Pages:67 - 78 [image - Nathan Barley, Channel 4] •
  21. individual differences have implications for managing people: • people who score high on openness to experience produced more creative results on open-ended tasks • people who are high on conscientiousness will produce less creative results when their work is closely monitored • people who are low on emotional stability (especially those who are also introverted) do particularly badly when they think they are being evaluated Monday, 5 April 2010 I’m not comfortable with personality psychometrics in the hiring process - individual differences explain much less of our behaviour than intuition would lead us to think (see for why this is). But an understanding of how people may differ can help people to work together. George JM, Zhou J., 1986, When openness to experience and conscientiousness are related to creative behavior: an interactional approach. J Appl Psychol. 2001 Jun;86(3):513-24 Chamorro-Premuzic, & Reichenbacher, T, 2008, Effects of personality and threat of evaluation on divergent and convergent thinking, Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1095-1101
  22. motivation Monday, 5 April 2010 [no apologies for this image: snowbombing]
  23. much of the debate boils down to intrinsic motivation - doing something because you enjoy it or get personal meaning out of it vs extrinsic motivation - doing it for external reward, like money or praise neither one is objectively better or worse Monday, 5 April 2010
  24. lots of evidence suggests that high levels of intrinsic motivation to do something lead to more creative output this works even if you just prime people to think about intrinsic motivations before doing a task Monday, 5 April 2010 Ruscio, J., D. M. Whitney, and T. M. Amabile. "Looking Inside the Fishbowl of Creativity:Verbal and Behavioral Predictors of Creative Performance." Creativity Research Journal 11, no. 3 (1998): 243-263. Greer, M & Levine, E (1991) Enhancing creative performance in college students. Journal of Creative Behaviour, 25, 250-255 Graef, R, Csikszentmihalyi, M, Giannino, SM (1983) Measuring intrinsic motivation in everyday life, Leisure Studies, 2, 155-168 Amabile, T. M., R. Conti, H. Coon, J. Lazenby, and M. Herron. "Assessing the Work Environment for Creativity." Academy of Management Journal 39, no. 5 (October 1996): 1154-1184.
  25. “to establish a place of work where engineers can feel the joy of technological innovation, be aware of their mission to society, and work to their heart’s content.” masaru ibuka, founder of sony Monday, 5 April 2010 The first purposes of incorporation of Sony. [image:]
  26. • involvement in the task is particularly important (e.g. being in flow state) • higher feelings of autonomy or freedom tend to be related to higher levels of intrinsic motivation - i.e. if you can choose what to do, and how to do it, you’ll probably enjoy it more and thus be more creative Monday, 5 April 2010 Ruscio, J., D. M. Whitney, and T. M. Amabile (1998)- "Looking Inside the Fishbowl of Creativity:Verbal and Behavioral Predictors of Creative Performance." Creativity Research Journal 11, no. 3: 243-263. Zhou, J (1998) Feedback valence, feedback style, task autonomy, and achievement orientation: Interactive effects on creative performance. Journal of Applied Psychology.Vol 83 (2), Apr 1998, 261-276 See also Csikszentmihalyi on Flow, e.g. TED talk at [image -]
  27. • if you offer people a reward to do something that they already find interesting, you may decrease intrinsic motivation and thus creativity • priming people to think about extrinsic motivations (money, status, evaluation) reduces creativity, but only on open ended tasks Monday, 5 April 2010 Amabile, T. M. "Brilliant but Cruel: Perceptions of Negative Evaluators." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 19 (March 1983): 146-156. Amabile, T. M. "Attributions of Creativity: What Are the Consequences?" Creativity Research Journal 8, no. 4 (1995): 423-426. R. Eisenberger, M. Selbst (1994), "Does reward increase or decrease creativity?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,Vol. 66 pp.1116 - 1127. Greene, D., & Lepper, M. R. (1974, September). Intrinsic motivation: How to turn play into work. Psychology Today, 49-54. Kohn, A. (1993), Punished by Reward: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A ́s, Praise, and Other Bribes, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  28. photo by tim_caynes • the negative effects depend on whether the extrinsic motivation is seen as controlling or supportive • extrinsic motivation helps improve intrinsic motivation when you’re given constructive feedback that recognizes your creative accomplishment Monday, 5 April 2010 e.g. Amabile, T. M. "Motivational Synergy: Toward New Conceptualizations of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace."Human Resource Management Review 3, no. 3 (autumn 1993): 185-201.
  29. this is the difference between QA... i’m supervising you to make sure you don’t f*** up Monday, 5 April 2010
  30. ...and support gosh, this is interesting, isn’t it? how can we learn more about it? Monday, 5 April 2010
  31. it’s OK to have an ego many great people have combined high intrinsic motivation with a strong desire for recognition Monday, 5 April 2010 Howard E. Gruber (1981) Darwin on man: A psychological study of scientific creativity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  32. remember this? finding solving implementing good problems those problems solutions Monday, 5 April 2010
  33. remember this? finding solving implementing good problems those problems solutions loving what you do the prospect of supports you at the money and fun, idea generation recognition helps stages you get through the hard work needed to develop those ideas Monday, 5 April 2010 e.g. Amabile, T. M. 1993: "Motivational Synergy: Toward New Conceptualizations of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace."Human Resource Management Review 3, no. 3 PS: If you want to read more on this I recommend looking up Teresa Amabile:
  34. photo by rogoyski tips for enhancing creativity Monday, 5 April 2010 OK, the soundbitey quick wins bit. Some of this may sound flippant but all of it has a basis in evidence.
  35. photo by jeevs enjoy what you do did I say that already? :) Monday, 5 April 2010 Csikszentmihalyi talks about immersing yourself in whatever you do by finding something meaningful in it. People who find this easy have autotelic personalities but we can all cultivate it. And if you can’t find anything meaningful in it, you ought to be doing something else.
  36. the ‘conscious’ bits of the mind are serial - they can only process one thing at a time remind you of anything? Monday, 5 April 2010 Don’t rely on your conscious mind. If you even believe in consciousness. Some very clever people don’t, e.g. see Dennett: Dennett, Daniel (1991), Allen Lane, ed., Consciousness Explained, The Penguin Press. Unintentionally summed up nicely by Radiohead as “just cos you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.”
  37. the unconscious bits are massively parallel which would you rather rely on? Monday, 5 April 2010 NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer - an SGI® Altix® ICE system with 14,080 Intel® Xeon® quad-core processors (56,320 cores, 110 racks) running at 544 trillion floating point operations per second (teraflops). (see
  38. the unconscious mind is a much more powerful information processor but it won’t get a word in edgeways until you distract the conscious mind engaging the conscious mind in something else, even just for a few minutes, results in much more creative outputs Monday, 5 April 2010 See the works of Ap Dijksterhuis at, e.g. Dijksterhuis at al (2006) On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-Without-Attention Effect Science 311, 1005
  39. the presence of green things increases creative output, perhaps because makes us feel calm and positive Monday, 5 April 2010 May sound like it’s from the department of the bleeding obvious, but no less valid for it. e.g. R. S. Ulrich (1993): "Biophilia, Biophobia, and Natural Landscapes." In S. Kellert and E. O. Wilson (Eds.), The Biophilia Hypothesis. Washington, DC: Island Press
  40. photo by a r pratana balance group and individual work social loafing/diffusion of responsibility result in fewer ideas Monday, 5 April 2010 A meta analysis of 20 studies showed that in most cases, people working on their own produced more and better ideas than those working in groups. Brian Mullen ; Craig Johnson ;Eduardo Salas, (1991), Productivity Loss in Brainstorming Groups: A Meta-Analytic Integration, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Volume 12, Issue 1 March 1991 , pages 3 - 23
  41. photo: dom dada switch some members of groups Monday, 5 April 2010 The most successful Broadway musicals are produced by teams comprised of a combination of people who have worked together before and those who have not. Guimerà, Roger, Brian Uzzi, Jarrett Spiro, and Luís A. Nunes Amaral (2005). “Team Assembly Mechanisms Determine Collaboration Network Structure and Team Performance.” Science 308(5722): 697-702. Summarised at
  42. X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X look at something X X X X X X X X unconventional X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X Monday, 5 April 2010 Förster, J. (2009). Cognitive consequences of novelty and familiarity: How mere exposure influences level of construal. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 444-447.
  43. lie down Monday, 5 April 2010 Perhaps because it makes you relaxed. Noradrenaline, of which you produce more when standing up, may inhibit creativity. Lipnicki, DM, and Byrne, DG,(2005), Thinking on your back: Solving anagrams faster when supine than when standing, Cognitive Brain Research,Volume 24, Issue 3, Pages 719-722
  44. and more, hot off the press from psyblog today: techniques.php? utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter Monday, 5 April 2010
  45. thank you @clurr Monday, 5 April 2010
  46. you may like: Robert J Sternberg, 1998, ‘Handbook of Creativity’ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1988, ‘Creativity’ J C Kaufman, 2009, ‘Creativity 101’ Richard Wiseman, 2009, ‘59 Seconds’ (for quick fixes) Psyblog: full academic references are in the notes Monday, 5 April 2010