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5/5 (1 valutazione)
333 pagine
5 ore
May 2, 2009


"...Full of keen and illuminating insight...Written with creative flair and great elegance."

Robert Olen Butler
Author, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

"...Witty, charming, and informative...Creativity 101 makes a convincing case for the importance of creativity in society, in our schools, and in our daily lives....And no, we aren't related."

Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD
Author, The Psychology of Creative Writing

"[An] excellent primer or review of what is out there in terms of research, definitions, theoretical considerations, and leading thinkers in the world of creativity."--Gifted and Talented International

What is creativity and how can we measure it? Creativity 101 serves as a brief, engaging introduction to the field of creativity. Dr. Kaufman presents the cutting-edge research and analyzes new and emerging theories in the field. This book investigates the many definitions of creativity, as well as how it is manifested and measured in schools, the workplace, business, art, media, and more.

Key Topics Discussed:
  • The "Four Ps" of creativity: person, product, process, and press
  • How creativity influences personality, motivation, intelligence, and talent
  • The dark side of creativity: the remarkable relationship between creativity and mental illness
  • Emerging directions in creativity research, with discussions on neuroscience, the media, and literature

The Psych 101 Series

Short, reader-friendly introductions to cutting-edge topics in psychology. With key concepts, controversial topics, and fascinating accounts of up-to-the-minute research, The Psych 101 Series is a valuable resource for all students of psychology and anyone interested in the field.

May 2, 2009

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Creativity 101 - Kaufman PhD, James C.




James C. Kaufman, PhD

Copyright © 2009 Springer Publishing Company, LLC

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Springer Publishing Company, LLC, or authorization through payment of the appropriate fees to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, 978-750-8400, fax 978-646-8600, or on the web at

Springer Publishing Company, LLC

11 West 42nd Street

New York, NY 10036

Acquisitions Editor: Philip Laughlin

Production Editor: Julia Rosen

Cover Design: David Levy

Composition: Apex CoVantage, LLC

08 09 10 11 / 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Kaufman, James C.

Creativity 101 / James C. Kaufman.

           p. cm. — (Psych 101 series)

     Includes bibliographical references and index.

     ISBN 978-0-8261-0625-4 (alk. paper)

   1. Creative ability. I. Title. II. Title: Creativity one hundred one.

III. Title: Creativity one hundred and one. IV. Title: Creativity one oh one.

   BF408.K364   2009

   153.3′5—dc22         2008046851

Printed in the United States of America by tk

The author and the publisher of this Work have made every effort to use sources believed to be reliable to provide information that is accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The author and publisher shall not be liable for any special, consequential, or exemplary damages resulting, in whole or in part, from the readers’ use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this book.

The publisher has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Dr. Robert J. Sternberg has been the best mentor I could have

possibly hoped for—brilliant, supportive, and

a continual source of advice and inspiration.

I wouldn’t be studying creativity if it weren’t for him.

It is my honor to dedicate this book to him.



Chapter 1   Defining Creativity

Chapter 2   Modern Theories of Creativity

Chapter 3   Is Creativity One Thing or Many Things?

Chapter 4   Where Does Creativity Fit In? Personality, Motivation, and Intelligence

Chapter 5   Does Creativity Have a Dark Side?

Chapter 6   Should Creativity Be Included in School Admissions?

Chapter 7   Looking Forward: What Now?





This book has been a long undertaking, and although I usually work quickly, this one has taken some time. I’d like to start by thanking Phil Laughlin of Springer, my editor and friend for six years and many books. It’s been an absolute pleasure, even if it’s meant tolerating the eternal optimism of a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. I look forward to many more books together.

Several of my students have been particularly helpful in researching, commenting, and critiquing this book. Ryan Holt has helped enormously with gathering research citations, and I have also had assistance from Sarah Burgess, Mariah Bussey, Candice Davis, Kristiana Powers, Bethany Pritchard, and Tessy T. Pumaccahua. Sheela Ramesh gave the manuscript a much-appreciated close read.

I have also greatly benefited from close and careful reads by a variety of top people in the field. Judith Schlesinger reviewed an earlier draft and (nicely) took me to task on some key creativity–mental illness points. Ruth Richards’ early support and encouragement helped me gear up to finish the book.

In addition, I was moved by the extensive, thoughtful comments given by so many of my colleagues and coauthors. I had the good luck to meet John Baer early in my career, and his mentorship, friendship, and collaboration have been invaluable; John made sure that my descriptions of the domain-specific point of view were up-to-snuff. Ron Beghetto has shaped the way I view creativity as a developmental process, and my friendship with him and his family has been a source of great pleasure (and pancakes). Jonathan Plucker, an important voice for creativity across many organizations, has been a tremendous source of advice, support, pep talks, consultation, and friendship. Scott Barry Kaufman, my friend and brother-in-spirit, made sure that I was up to date on the intelligence and openness literature. Paul Silvia, an expert not only in creativity and aesthetics but also in how to write well (and often), gave me invaluable suggestions to make the manuscript smoother and easier to read. Finally, throughout my career I’ve been able to discuss and explore ideas about creativity with so many other great minds, including Adam Bristol, Christine Charyton, Jason Cole, Arthur and David Cropley, Claudia Gentile, Elena Grigorenko, Zorana Ivcevic, Aaron Kozbelt, Soonmook Lee, Paul Locher, Weihua Niu, Gunseli Oral, Jean Pretz, Roni Reiter-Palmon, Mark Runco, Janel Sexton, Jerome Singer, Dean Simonton, Jeff and Lisa Smith, the late E. Paul Torrance, Tom Ward, and Mary Waterstreet. Special thanks to grad school friends Adam and Jean for taking time to answer some specific questions for this book.

The late and much-missed John Horn took me under his wing when I was an undergraduate and taught me about life and crystallized–fluid intelligence. I am also grateful to Gwyn Boodoo, Bruce Bracken, Domenic Cicchetti, Ann Gallagher, James McLean, Jack Naglieri, Cecil Reynolds, and Sara Sparrow for their continued mentorship. Most essentially, I had the best possible advisor (in graduate school and beyond) in Bob Sternberg. He has been an incredible role model and a brilliant scholar, and I dedicate this book to him.

I give a big thank you to my friends at CSUSB who have been supportive of this and other projects, especially Mark Agars, Stacy Brooks, Allen Butt, Susan Daniels, Michelle Ebert Freire, Joanna Worthley, and all my students. My love to longtime friends Josh Butler, Wind and Esme Cowles, David and Aviva Hecht, and Nathan and Amy Stone.

Finally, the heart and soul of my life is family. I come from a family of psychologists, who have always been there for me. My sister, Jennie, and her family (Nicole Hendrix and Mitch, Brianna, and Leo Singer) have been a wonderful source of strength and friendship, as have my late brother’s family (Milissa, Matt, Josiah, and Mikaela Kaufman and Kate Singleton). My parents, Alan and Nadeen, are often the first people to read my work and discuss my ideas; they have been loving pillars of support through my entire life (even as I sometimes argue that IQ tests are bad for not including creativity). The center of my life—my rock, my soul, my world—is always Allison. And my hope for the future is the sweetest person I know, Jacob.


Defining Creativity

A few years ago, I was being interviewed by a journalist who asked me, Engineers give us better machines. Doctors find cures. What does studying creativity do? Does it make better art? Is the destroy the artist—and perhaps art itself—through a process of reductive demystification? Aside from being an interesting break from the usual questions (such as, Are all creative people crazy?), this discussion made me think carefully about why studying creativity is important.

I think that the study of creativity does give us better art, and far from destroying the artist, I think it can improve an artist’s life—or a scientist’s life, or a businessperson’s life. Creativity affects a lot of different people. Studying creativity and learning more about it also helps make the case that creativity is important. This statement—creativity is important—is not, however, a given assumption. On one hand, it is hard to imagine a teacher or a boss saying that they didn’t want a creative student or employee. People who value creativity may point to its role in inventions, in culture, in progress—in short, to most things that define our civilization. Yet, if creativity is so essential, why is it so absent from most educational or business assessments? If we want our students to be creative, why is creativity nowhere to be found on the SATs or GREs? With a few notable exceptions that I will discuss later, why do so few college admissions committees consider applicant creativity? If we want our employees to be creative, then why not toss in a measure of creativity in the personnel screening process to go with the ability, personality, interest, and integrity measures?

The answers to these questions are complicated. Many people have a gut reaction about studying and measuring creativity; one of my favorites is from Sherry Lansing, a one-time CEO of Paramount Pictures and a University of California Regent. You can evaluate grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but not creativity, she told the Chronicle of Higher Education (E. Hoover, 2002). "How would Ulysses be graded on the SAT? How would Faulkner have been graded?"

The thought of grading Faulkner (or Mozart or Picasso) sounds absurd. The idea of grading Einstein or Bill Gates is a little absurd, too, yet we still have an awful lot of science and math questions on the SATs, GREs, AP tests, and so on that could theoretically provide a reasonable grade for them. Indeed, most of the things that scientists try to measure don’t merit this type of reaction. Why? Some of the reasons lie in the nature of creativity itself. Many of the most common discussions of creativity are spiritual, psychoanalytic, or business-oriented. These approaches may yield useful information, but they’re not particularly sciencefriendly.

Many of the earliest ideas about creativity were mystical and relied on divine inspiration (see a review of these ideas in Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). It’s hard to claim that something is scientific or that it can be measured when the first people to talk about it were also talking about muses and demons. It’s a little hard to take people’s thoughts on the creative process seriously when they also may have believed that volcanic eruptions were caused by a trapped immortal sneezing fire (okay, I made that one up, but you get my gist).

Yet, creativity researchers often like using these mystical kinds of words in their article titles. I’m guilty of doing exactly this; I’ve used words such as genius, lunatics, and madness in my article titles, and I named one effect after Sylvia Plath (indeed, to the irate members of the Sylvia Plath Forum, I remain almost sorry). Why am I discussing my own use of these words, other than to illustrate my own hypocrisy? Because I know why I do it—it sounds cool. Creativity feels like a grand and melodramatic topic, and sometimes it’s tempting to give in to the grandeur. But my guess is that agencies that fund grants are more impressed with titles such as, Neural Interactions in Incremental and Episodic Memory (a real NIMH grant title, in fact). And you know what? I would be, too. That grant sounds like the scientists know what they’re doing.

However, the history of creativity research started with mysticism and continues on the mystical path to this day. A quick look on finds many bestsellers that focus on finding spiritual paths to creativity, gaining inspiration for discovering artistic confidence, reclaiming your creativity and dreams, unleashing creative forces within, and so on. These books may help some people, but they’re not science by any stretch. There’s nothing to back them up. Most fields within psychology don’t have this problem; I don’t see many books called Tapping Your Inner Measurement Expert or Finding Peace and Love with Your Hippocampus.

If you go beyond the creativity–mysticism work, what else is left? There’s a lot on the role of creativity in Freudian theory and psychoanalysis. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that—but we’re not talking heavy-duty psychological science, either. I ended up studying more Freud in an undergraduate English class than I did in my entire graduate program in psychology. It’s also a particularly negative way to look at creativity; much of the Freudian conceptions of creativity center around the idea that people are imaginative or create things as a way to sublimate their sexual desires. It’s a little ironic that recent research indicates that creative people tend to have more sex than less creative people (Nettle & Clegg, 2006).

Another big area is creativity in the workplace. Much of the body of research and writing in this area is legitimate and insightful, and I will discuss it in detail. Some of the work in this area, however, is simply pop psychology. Being practical and applied is absolutely a good thing, but some of these approaches sacrifice any semblance of scientific validity and are light years away from empirical evidence. Most of the books on business creativity that you may find remaindered at Barnes & Noble or Borders are not necessarily foolproof. If learning to be a creative worker or leader was as easy as reading a book and realizing, Hey, I just need to look at things differently sometimes, then everyone would be creative and live happily ever after—and every company would be an innovation engine.

Perhaps the biggest reason why creativity can feel like an unwanted Windows upgrade is that many people don’t know exactly what creativity is. Ask a classroom full of students to tell you their definitions of creativity, and you’ll get a lot of responses like thinking outside the box. Yes, without question, but what, exactly, does that mean? One of the first goals of this book is to clarify the many different meanings of creativity.

It’s not surprising that most people don’t have a strong grasp of what it means to study creativity. If you look at the people who do study creativity, they are scattered across many different areas. Some are cognitive psychologists, others are in education. Some are in business; some are starting to pop up in neuroscience. It’s hard to get a consistent agreement about a topic across psychology; it is even more difficult to get such a disparate group of thinkers to come together across fields.

Some people think of being creative the way they do about using public transportation—it’s great that other people do it, but they don’t want to do it themselves. Or others may think of it in the same way as being a vegetarian—a perfectly noble endeavor, but not something they could handle doing. Or, perhaps, it’s simply something completely alien. I’m not creative, they say. And these same people may then miraculously balance the family budget with innovative money management strategies, or keep a small child entertained for hours with made-up songs, or build a fence designed to keep a high-strung beagle in the yard.

Indeed, when you think of a creative person, who do you conjure up? Maybe you think of Van Gogh cutting off his ear and then painting a masterpiece. Or Alexander Fleming leaving a Petri dish out by mistake and discovering penicillin. More recently, you might think of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs revolutionizing the way people communicate, work, and think. But other images of creativity may come closer to home: your daughter building a structure with her Legos, or your uncle spontaneously making up a pun. Or maybe you on occasion may tinker with a new recipe, play guitar, create computer games, make funny faces, or tinker with new gadgets.

What do you think of when you think of a creative product or activity? Many people, for example, have received the spam e-mails from foreign countries in which someone writes of a desire of going into a business relationship with you. His father died and left him a fortune, or she is the manager of a small bank trying to perform a large financial transaction. There are hundreds of millions of dollars up for grabs, and they need your help to provide an account for the money and put up a few thousand bucks in up-front costs. It’s nothing, really, compared to the money you will be making. As you have (hopefully) guessed, it’s a scam. The plans get postponed, more officials need to be bribed, and so on, until they have bled you dry. But here’s the creative part: The other day I got an e-mail from the Antifraud Commission of Nigeria. They are busy prosecuting the nasty spammers and fraudsters and are suing them to compensate the victims. Indeed, I stand to gain nearly $500,000 as a witness and plaintiff, if I can just pass along the court expenses and initial legal fees....

Here’s another one: Are animals creative? Some would argue that the answer is yes, and in fact, there is even a framework for animal creativity (J. C. Kaufman & A. B. Kaufman, 2004). Let’s take the satin bowerbird as an example. The males of the species do a nifty, complicated dance to attract the females. They puff out their feathers, they extend their wings, and they run around and make a funny buzzing sound (all in the name of love). Female satin bowerbirds prefer those males who provide the best show (Borgia, 1985). Sometimes, however, these dances can startle the females, making them less likely to mate (which somehow makes sense; try screaming Boo! during an intimate moment and see where that gets you). What recent research has shown is that male satin bowerbirds respond to startling their intended mates by reducing the intensity of their dances in the future (Patricelli, Coleman, & Borgia, 2006). So not only do these guys dance and put on a show, but they know enough to tone it down if they’re not getting the right response. Teenage boys should be so lucky.

How about this one: John Cage was a composer who specialized in unorthodox compositions, finding music in a wide variety of sounds. One of his pieces was called 4′33. The piece consisted of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence or, as Cage called it, unintentional sound. The pianist would walk out onto stage, open the piano, and simply sit for exactly four minutes and 33 seconds. Cage’s idea behind this piece was that there is music all around us and we need to reject our preconceived notions about what music is (Cage, 1961; Hamm, 1980). Was Cage creative? Could silence be a creative piece of music? In 2002, composer Mike Batt’s classical rock band, The Planets, released a CD with a song on it called One Minute Silence," which is exactly what it sounds like. Cage’s estate sued for plagiarism. Batt settled out of court for a six-figure amount (, 2002).

Yet, consider this other lawsuit: Stu Silverstein compiled 122 uncollected poems of Dorothy Parker and published them as an edited volume. Penguin Books had earlier negotiated unsuccessfully to publish Silverstein’s compilation as part of their collection of complete Dorothy Parker poems. Two years after Silverstein’s book appeared, Penguin included the exact same 122 poems (no more, no less) in their collection in an uncollected poems section. Silverstein sued, noting that they included poems that he found embedded in letters and that Penguin used the same titles he gave untitled poems. Astoundingly, Penguin won—a judge ruled that a copyright can be claimed only for a creative contribution, and Silverstein’s work as compiler and editor was not specifically creative but rather simply hard work. As a side note, the court had to legally define a poem and ended up with poetry consists of poems, but not all poems are poetry (S. Leith, 2007). Wow.

Here’s another example: On November 3, 2003, the Patriots were losing 24–23 to the Broncos with 2 minutes and 49 seconds left to play, backed up to their own 1-yard line. Patriots coach Bill Belichick called for a deliberate safety, a play in which his quarterback kneeled down in his own end zone, conceding two points to the other team. This play put the Broncos up 26–23, and was an odd move to someone (like me) who doesn’t know much about football. Instead of punting, the Patriots basically gave away two points. Why? What the move did was give the Patriots room to kick off. Instead of punting and getting the ball maybe 40 yards away from their own goal line, they were able to get the ball to the Broncos’ 15-yard line (and further away from scoring). The Patriots were able to stop the Broncos and then scored a touchdown due to their new, improved field position (and a gutsy move by the coach), winning the game 30–26. The strategy easily could have backfired, but Belichick knew that he had a good field goal kicker who could likely tie the game up 26–26, even if the touchdown run didn’t work (Brady leads Patriots, 2006). In this strategy, the two points lost because of the safety were not particularly meaningful, and well worth the investment and risk. Is this creative football coaching? Would your opinion be different based on how much you know about football?

There are many, many other examples. In 2003, an odd phenomenon called Flash Mobs began, in which a large crowd of people would show up at a predetermined place and do a predetermined action (for example, gathering at a fancy hotel and then staring at a specific area). With hundreds of teenagers (or other people with too much time on their hands) participating in these flash mobs, it made the news as yet another example of odd behavior by the masses. Eventually, it faded into oblivion. Is this creative or simply bizarre? What if I were to tell you that the originator of flash mobs was an eager devotee of social psychology experiments and was testing his own ideas about group behavior with a live participant pool? Would that it make it creative? In fact, that’s what happened, and the originator is now a senior editor at Harper’s Magazine (Wasik, 2006).

For every question we might tackle, another thousand pop up. What is creativity? Is it possible to find creativity in different pockets and nooks of our culture? Think about Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer that was able to defeat defending chess champion Gary Kasparov in the mid-1990s. Can a computer be creative? Consider the advertising campaign for an Ecuadorian foot powder, Pulvapies, which hyped its product on the eve of election night by advising voters to vote for whomever they wanted but to make sure to vote for Pulvapies for good health—and then managed to get their foot powder elected mayor of a small town (Mikkelson & Mikkelson, 2006). Does that count as creativity, or is it notable only because of the outcome? How about the toys and gadgets made by Archie McPhee, including a corndog-scented air freshener, an action figure of Marie Antoinette with an ejecting head, and Angry Scotsman chewing gum—do you have to find them amusing to consider them creative? Consider the Web site, which features many photographs of people in the process of shaking their head rapidly back and forth (thereby creating the effect of distorted facial features), or, which offers people posing with LP sleeves covering their faces to create a new image. Certainly, jowler and sleeveface photographs are different and unlike other photographs; are they creative?

Think of the Paul Simon song, Mother and Child Reunion—does it strike you as more or less creative when you find out that he got the title from a chicken and egg dish at a Chinese restaurant? Maybe you can be a creative artistic consumer, interpreting movies or song lyrics in new ways. On the Web site Andy’s Anachronisms (Taylor, 2003), a series of pop songs are interpreted as if they’re about time travel. Most of these interpretations are not consistent with the typically assumed content of the song. Once in a Lifetime, by the Talking Heads, is usually seen as a song about a mid-life crisis; Andy interprets lines such as, "And you may tell

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