Definitions of Creativity
There are many definitions of creativity; dictionaries give the
Heritage Illustrated Dictionary:
create: To cause to exist, Bring into being,
Originate, To give rise to, Bring about, Produce, To be first to
portray and give character to a role or part (appropriate to creating
fictional characters and writing stories) creation: An original
product of human invention or imagination.
creative: characterized by originality and
Macquarie Dictionary (an Australian dictionary)
create: to evolve from one's one thought or imagination
to make by investing with new character or functions.
create: author, bring into being, compose, conceive,
parent, form, give rise to, throw together
creative: generative, ground-breaking, innovative, originate,
Other related words re: creativity:
creativity creativeness, formativeness, innovation, inventiveness,
originality, productivity, craftsmanship, authorship, creatorship
"Being creative is seeing the same thing as everybody else but thinking
of something different"
There are many aspects to creativity, but one definition would
include the ability to take existing objects and combine them in
different ways for new purposes. For example, Gutenberg took the wine
press and the die/punch and produced a printing press. Thus, a simple
definition of creativity is the action of combining previously
uncombined elements. From art, music and invention to household chores,
this is part of the nature of being creative. Another way of looking at
creativity is as playing with the way things are interrelated.
Creativity is the ability to generate novel and useful ideas and
solutions to everyday problems and challenges.
Creativity involves the translation of our unique gifts, talents
and vision into an external reality that is new and useful. We must keep
in mind that creativity takes place unavoidably inside our own personal,
social, and cultural boundaries.
The more we define our creativity by identifying with specific
sets of values, meanings, beliefs and symbols, the more our creativity
will be focused and limited; the more we define our creativity by
focusing on how values, meanings, beliefs and symbols are formed, the
greater the chance that our creativity will become less restricted.
In the creative process there are always two different (but
interrelated) dimensions or levels of dynamics with which one can
- The system which may be a particular medium (e.g. oil
painting or a particular musical form), or a particular process (like a
problem solving agenda, or an approach to creativity like Synectics).
The creative person manipulates that means to a creative end.
- The second dimension is described by the conceptual "content" which
the medium describes. Again, the creative person depicts, changes,
manipulates, expresses somehow the idea of that content.
There is no one definition of creativity that everyone can agree
with. Creativity researchers, mostly from the field of psychology,
usually claim that being creative means being novel and appropriate.
Subsumed under the appropriateness criterion are qualities of fit,
utility, and value.
At least three aspects of creativity have drawn much attention.
- The creative process, receiving the most attention, focuses on the
mechanisms and phases involved as one partakes in a creative act.
- A second aspect of creativity is the creative person. Here,
personality traits of creative people are central. The environmental
atmosphere and influence are concerns of a third aspect, the creative
- Lastly, the criteria or characteristics of creative products have
been sought. This area is of particular importance because it is the
basis of any performance assessment of real world creativity and may
provide a window on the other aspects of creativity.
Briefly stated, creativity is often thought to exist on at least
Some researchers claim other categories of creativity as well:
- a higher level versus a lower level
- grand versus modest
- big "C" versus little c
- paradigm-shifting versus garden-variety
- eminent versus everyday
- expressive versus productive
- expressive versus inventive
- expressive versus innovative
- invention versus discovery
- theory versus invention versus discovery
- accommodative versus assimilative
- personal versus public
There are three general ways of achieving a creative solution:
Also, the mode of activity one is in when being creative
differs. For example, there is a distinction between real-time
creativity and multistage creativity. Real-time creativity is
spur-of-the-moment, improvisational, and demands output in a short
interval of time; whereas in multistage creativity, sufficient time is
allowed for the generation and selection of ideas.
- and meditation
Creative thought can be divided into divergent and convergent
- Divergent thinking is the intellectual ability to think of many
original, diverse, and elaborate ideas.
- Convergent thinking: the intellectual ability to logically evaluate, critique and choose the best idea from a selection of ideas.
Both abilities are required for creative output. Divergent thinking is
essential to the novelty of creative products whereas convergent
thinking is fundamental to the appropriateness.
Thus, any general definition of creativity must account for the
process of recognition or discovery of novel ideas and solutions.
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Last updated: 4th August 1999