Creativity and You

Creativity is something that is difficult to be defined in words. Is it a process which can be learnt or is it a part of a person or whether it can be attributed in ideas and products? Creativity is ambiguous and something which different from intelligence. It is not restricted to cognitive or intellectual functioning, instead something with a complex mix of personality factors, level of motivation, environmental conditions, and chance factors. If put in words, creativity can be defined as an ability to generate, create, or discover new ideas, solutions, and possibilities, likely to be useful or aesthetically pleasing.

An act of creativity is a combinational force of neurocognitive and neuropsychological insight, information processing and an inspiration that could lead to a creative work which is unequalled, radically distinctive, impressive, and inspiring. Creating a beautiful painting, crafting a model with clay, producing a new tune, developing an innovative product or making a scientific discovery, all can be attributed to the forms of creativity. It can also be as simple as an ability to analyse, evaluate and reorganize information, engage in divergent thinking or dealing with complexity. The novelty of an idea need not be artistic or world-changing to be counted as creative. Daily acts of ingenuity and novel workarounds in life which helps us in better understanding and managing critical situations can be classified under creativity. In this sense, almost everyone possesses some amount of creativity.

Defining Creativity

There is no single definition of creativity. Although Psychologists have offered several definitions to explain the idea of being creative. Newell, Shaw and Simon (1963) have explained the nature of creativity on the basis of:

  • Novelty and usefulness.
  • Rejection of previously accepted ideas.
  • Requiring intense motivation and persistence.
  • Organising unclear situation in a coherent, clear and new way.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an American-Hungarian psychologist in his book “Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention” defined creativity as any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one. In his book, he has also described the characteristics of a creative personality in following ways: –

  • They a great deal of energy, but also often being quiet and at rest.
  • They are smart, yet also naive at the same time.
  • They have combination of playfulness and discipline.
  • They alternate between imagination and fantasy at one end, and rooted sense of reality at the other.
  • Creative people seem to harbor opposite tendencies on the continuum between extroversion and introversion.
  • Creative individuals are also remarkable humble and proud at the same time.
  • To a certain extent they escape rigid gender role stereotyping and have a tendency toward androgyny.
  • Generally, creative people are thought to be rebellious and independent.
  • Most creative persons are passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
  • The openness and sensitivity of creative individuals often exposes them to suffering pain yet also a great deal of enjoyment.

Researches have shown that creative thinking involves making new connections between different regions of the brain. Frontal cortex, hippocampus, basal ganglia and the white matter are together attributed towards development of creative thinking. Brain mapping technologies like fMRI and EEG have shown activation of these areas when an individual comes up with creative ideas.

Measuring Creativity

Measurement of creativity has drawn attention of many cognitive scientists to understand the thinking processes that lead to creative ideas. Indeed, many so-called “creativity tests” are actually the measurement of the thought processes that is believed to underlie a creative act. 

J.P.Guilford’s Alternative Uses Test measures creativity on four measures namely, fluency of the responses, flexibility in types of responses, unusualness of the responses and the elaboration of the responses.

RAT (Remote Associates Test) developed by Sarnoff Mednick measures creative convergent thinking. It consists of questions that lists a group of words and requires the participant to provide a single extra word that link all the others together.

TTCT (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking) assess child’s creativity. Instead of intelligence and reasoning aspect, children are scored on varied concepts of verbal and figural activities and exercises.

How to be Creative

All individuals are innately curious and have capacity to be creative but their creativity won’t necessity develop on its own. It needs to be nurtured, encouraged, and practiced. One can increase their creativity and be creative by blending following factors: 

  • Be venturesome: One can develop creative ideas by seeking new experiences, stop complaining to new ideas and opening up for new activities. They need to tolerate ambiguity and take risk. This can encourage an individual to develop thought patterns which are unique and novel. It can also help them to develop skills to overcome uninvited obstacles.
  • Divergent thinking and acting: Let go the fantasy of perfection and develop the thinking process which is flexible and involves exploring many possible solutions to a single problem. Restructuring and redefining fixated thought process can help an individual to develop creativity.
  • General Knowledge and thinking base: By acquiring more knowledge and thinking about its applicability can broaden the perception, and develop comprehensive information processing skills. It can help in analysing and synthesizing problems in logical and reasonable way, assisting an individual to explore unique way towards developing something new.
  • Imaginative thinking: Recognizing patterns, making connections, drawing logical and innovative deductions can provide an individual the ability to see things in a unique way. It can help in deriving constructive thoughts for a creative process.
  • Intrinsic motivation: As creativity is said to be driven by internal factors, interest level and satisfaction, drives the overall creative process. Making anything enjoyable and interesting can draw our intrinsic motivation towards finding creative solution to the problems and developing novel ways to create something.
  • Physical exercise: Researches have shown that physical exercise increases blood flow in the brain, providing oxygen to sharpen mental clarity. It helps in stimulating imagination and new ideas, by forcing out of left-brain dominant thinking and stimulating other brain structures attributed in development of creative thinking.

Psychologists as mental health care providers plays a major role in understanding biological, behavioural and social factors that influences mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center ( ), is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of mental health issues and related therapeutic interventions. 

Furthermore, TalkToAngel ( ) online mental health services under him put your needs first. They can help you with flexible appointments, personalized and customized intervention plans all at the tip of your fingers.

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