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Creativity is the ability to create something that is new or original and thereby useful or usable. In addition, there are different approaches to what characterizes creativity in detail and how it is created.

In common parlance, the word creativity primarily describes the ability of a person to be creative or creative. However, the widespread notion that creativity is only associated with professions or activities in the fields of visual arts and performing arts is wrong ( art bias ).

A distinction is made between everyday ( small c ) and extraordinary ( big C ) creativity. Extraordinary creativity is the outstanding (mostly objective) creativity at the level of genius. Everyday creativity is the (mostly subjective) creativity that can be observed in most people, such as redesigning a garden or improvising while cooking. There are many transitions between everyday and extraordinary creativity. Both develop in an interplay of talents, knowledge, skills, intrinsic motivation, personality traits and supportive environmental conditions.

Other authors distinguish between creativity, which is required to solve a given task, and creative creativity, which is used to explore future possibilities. Winkelhofer calls these two forms “normative” and “exploring” creativity.

Etymology and usage

The verb create originated in the 15th century with the meaning 'appoint, choose' as a borrowing from the Latin of creāre '(he) create, (he) generate, (he) choose'. It was still used in this meaning in the middle of the 19th century, e.g. B. create someone as a notary or doctor. In its more recent meanings as '(he) create, invent', on the other hand, it is borrowed from the French créer (which is also based on creāre).

The adjective in the spelling creativ is a 19th century borrowing from English. The same applies to the noun creativity, which has been evident in German-speaking countries at least since the post-war period .

The adjective creative is also used in word combinations as a euphemism to describe the exhaustion and violation of rules, for example in creative bookkeeping .

Definitions of Creativity

Dorsch came to the conclusion in 1994 (like other researchers too) that creativity was not a sharply delimitable term, that it offered room for speculation . However, since the early 2000s, the above definition has been the standard definition of creativity. There are also many variations on this definition. For example, it has also been suggested to limit oneself only to the criterion of novelty / originality. That was criticized, however, because every bizarre act or utterance that has not been there before would have to be described as creative.

Another definition relates the standard definition to the creative process: the cognitive psychologist Joy Paul Guilford described as creative any new, unprecedented, effective method, thought by few people, or the inclusion of factors such as problem sensitivity, fluidity of ideas, flexibility and originality . Accordingly, creativity would be the prompt solution (flexibility) for a problem with unusual, previously unimagined means (originality) and several possibilities of problem solving (fluidity of ideas) that are in any way unthinkable for the individual before the problem is solved (problem sensitivity).

Scientists like Stein (1953), John E. Drevdahl (1956) and Edward de Bono (1957) also tried to define creativity in order to make it measurable. Among other things, De Bono coined the term lateral thinking , which found its way into everyday German as lateral thinking . In 1962, Getzel and Jackson tried to define criteria that should make creative people recognizable as such. In doing so, they identified four main characteristics, which they termed creative, intelligent, moral and psychological skills. Further definitions come from DW MacKinnon (1962) and F. Barron (1965). McKinnon defined creativity as an idea that is new and at the same time seldom thought by several people, that has to be realized and that serves to improve or change.

Extraordinary and everyday creativity

For everyday creativity, the evaluation is subject to different standards than for outstanding creativity. Especially with everyday creativity it is more about the benefit for the creative himself, e.g. B. to solve own problems or to process negative experiences. With everyday creativity, creative experience is also in the foreground.

Creative achievements are usually only recognized as such when they prove to be useful for others in some way . Accordingly, outstanding creativity, in contrast to everyday creativity, is not only important for the creative person, but also for other people. Outstanding creativity is more about the evaluation by other people, i.e. the question of how the individual is evaluated from the outside through his creativity and the resulting problem-solving ability. The psychologist Csikszentmihalyi assumes that outstanding creativity always takes place in a system of individual, domain and appreciative environment. In many cases, outstanding creativity is only designated and assessed as such when it is accompanied by a complete redefinition of known and accepted laws or areas; famous examples are Arnold Schönberg (twelve-tone music), Pablo Picasso (cubism), Albert Einstein ( relativity theory ). The break with old ideas and norms and the creation of a new paradigm then falls into the realm of genius .

Everyday creativity is normally distributed in the population, similar to intelligence or height. Outstanding creativity is strongly skewed to the right . Accordingly, creative achievements and successes at a high level are rarely achieved. In a study with 905 participants and ten fields of activity surveyed (fine arts, science, ...), depending on the field of activity, around 0–6 people achieved the eighth (highest) success or performance level, i.e. H. less than 1%.

Cultural history of creativity

In early antiquity, it was believed that inspiration and the creation of new things are the result of divine intervention. In Greek mythology , creation is associated with chaotic and destructive aspects. Similar ideas can be found in the Bible, Hinduism, and Confucianism. In modern times, too, there is the idea of ​​a dialectic of order and chaos. Nietzsche says in “Also Spoke Zarathustra”: “You have to have chaos in you to give birth to a dancing star”. Plato believed that it is not possible to create something completely new . In his day, the task of art was seen in imitating or at least approaching an ideal. In late antiquity, the reference to the divine took a back seat and creativity was more associated with the ' daimon ' or ' genius ' of a creative person. In the Middle Ages, the divine aspect of inspiration was again emphasized due to religious influences. During the Renaissance , the word “genius” was no longer associated with a divine origin, but rather with a description of artistic creativity or the source of inspiration . It was common in Romanticism to mix creativity and genius, and in fact, this mix can well be observed well into the 1900s.

Research history of creativity

Creative skills and achievements are the object of consideration and research in several sciences, e.g. B. the history of science and economics. Schumpeter (1883–1950), in his 1911 work Theory of Economic Development, did not attribute pioneering achievements primarily to economic self-interest, but explained them with psychological motives, which also include “joy in design”. Schumpeter recognized the interplay between innovation and imitation as the driving force behind competition . The heavily revised new edition in 1926 made the terms creative destruction and creative destruction very popular in macroeconomics (and beyond). For entrepreneurial creativity, according to Schumpeter's ability is part of the successful recombination of existing resources and forces.

Intensive empirical research began in 1950, triggered by Guilford. It marked a turning point in creativity research. On the one hand, he noted that in the previous 25 years of 121,000 psychological works published, only around 186 relevant titles had been written on the subject of creativity, and called for more attention to be paid to this area. On the other hand, his speech culminated in the thesis: “Everyone is creative!”; so that it was contrary to the hitherto prevailing gifted paradigm and opened the door for a broader understanding of creativity and subsequent special creativity research.

Guilford derived his understanding of creativity from his structural model of intelligence by determining those intelligence factors as relevant for creativity that are prerequisites for divergent thinking . In addition to the definition of creativity as an intelligent ability, this view has been criticized in that divergent thinking and creativity are not to be equated: While it was originally assumed that divergent thinking expresses creativity and convergent thinking its lack, this dichotomy no longer corresponds to the current state of creativity research.

Guilford contributed other aspects such as socio-economic, scientific and educational aspects in relation to the definition of creativity and thus created the basis for measuring creative individual problem solving. Guilford's research could only partially shed light on the nature of creativity, since psychology and neurobiology can only examine everyday creativity. Extraordinary creativity cannot be investigated empirically, psychologically or experimentally (Andreasen 2005). In a test, the person would have to be creative "on command", which is incompatible with the spontaneous nature of many creative achievements. In addition, the extraordinarily creative achievement is often only recognized after a long time. Modern neuroimaging processes have the same problem : the creative performance would have to be triggered when the test person lies in the scanner and comparable control groups should be able to be formed.

Research into creative processes under the aspects of their controllability, predictability and utilization has gained in importance in innovation research.

Theorists of science have found that creative achievements often occur at the boundary between scientific domains, less often in the domain cores themselves. These hold on to established theoretical approaches for a long time (see also paradigm shift ). This also applies to psychological creativity research itself. B. has received new impulses through analogies from other domains through the investment theory of creativity by Sternberg and Lubart (1996). Creativity research received further impulses from the rapid development of brain research through the application of new imaging processes that make it possible to precisely localize and delimit thought processes in the brain in different areas. There are attempts to combine neurobiological, psychological and cultural creativity research (Holm-Hadulla 2013).

Since the late 1990s, the term cultural or creative industries has also been used to describe all activities involved in the manufacture and distribution of copyrighted products with the aim of making money. Today in Europe there are a multitude of approaches for understanding and interpreting creativity as an economic activity. The UK Ministry of Culture speaks of creative industries and has published various studies on this. In economics today, creativity is seen as an important resource in the development of new business models .

Creativity blockages

Impulses from the environment (upbringing, training, working atmosphere , etc.) often lead to behaviors that inhibit or even block creative potential. Scientists such as B. Edward de Bono , Howard Gardner , Mark Runco, Teresa Amabile (2008) and Shelley Carson have shown typical creativity blockages:

  • Strict goal orientation, rigid solution path fixation and methodism in the sense of binding to established problem-solving rituals - the mechanical approach to problem-solving and acting according to pre-defined rituals prevents you from looking for more efficient approaches or trying out new solutions.
  • Fear of failure / failure - The assumption that fear of failure could go hand in hand with inhibited creativity has not yet been empirically confirmed.
  • Strong pressure to evaluate - The fear of evaluating oneself has an inversely U-shaped relationship to creativity. That is, low-level fear is more conducive to creativity than no fear of evaluation; Fear of evaluation at a high level is a hindrance to creativity.
  • Weak ties between people who want to be creative - Weak ties with limited knowledge and social distance inhibit creativity.
  • Pressure to perform, success orientation - high performance demands usually come from outside (e.g. from superiors, colleagues, employees). A strong fixation on success can tempt you to move on safer, familiar terrain; it rarely leads to new ideas.
  • Time pressure - elements of a situation that are perceived as uncontrollable, such as time restrictions for a task, are a hindrance to creativity.
  • Thought barriers - In many cases, individual sensitivities (values, norms, etc.), old beliefs (“you don't do that ...” etc.) or supposed external barriers hinder innovative ideas or the flow of ideas. Beliefs come from B. from education and religion. The traditional is retained. In the worst case, this leads to a self-imposed ban on thinking , the “ scissors in the head ”, which rejects ideas and solutions as they arise, because possible negative consequences are thought of. In creative processes it is considered helpful to produce ideas unfiltered and not to evaluate or discard them too early (separation of idea generation and idea evaluation).
  • Expression of ideas from other team members - Comments and ideas from others lead to own production blockages, as one's own brainstorming is interrupted or the ideas are forgotten.
  • Social idleness - The individual team members are less creative with simple tasks to generate ideas because the individual performance is unknown.
  • Negative Attitude - Positive perspectives make it easier to be open about the environment.
  • The conviction that you are not creative - self-confidence and the ability to reflect are characteristics of creative people. Ideas that have not been implemented or rejected can cause uncertainty.
  • Strong network cohesion - this can hinder divergent thinking (with many alternative possibilities that lead to new creativity), as one strives for a quick solution.
  • Conformity pressure - We are brought up to a certain degree of conformity , because adaptation and alignment to social norms is necessary for their functioning. Conformity can restrict thought and action.
  • Groupthink - First, it makes information exchanged more redundant, as everyone “tells the same thing” and apparently “knows the same thing”. Second, groupthink increases the social pressure of brainstorming. The social pressure can lead to the fact that the persons concerned should find a quick solution that is accepted by the group instead of looking for original and creative ideas.
  • No autonomy, work under duress - but if you can work autonomously and freely, you are freer from bureaucracy and other responsibilities that interrupt innovation processes and thus creativity.
  • Bifurcation between work and play - Separating “work here” and “fun or play there” can be a disadvantage. Playful experimentation can promote the development of something new (see creativity techniques ).

The assumption that people striving for perfection are less creative has not yet been empirically confirmed.

The creative building blocks

In the painting “ The Art of Painting ” by Jan Vermeer (1664/68 or 1673) all four Ps of creativity are included

Mel Rhodes, an American scientist, gave the concept of creativity a division into four different basic elements, the so-called four Ps of creativity, which is still valid today. They help to subdivide and encompass the often vague term in a practical way

  • The creative person
  • The creative process
  • The creative product
  • The creative environment (orig .: press - the relationship of human beings and their environment . Ie environment or situation properties).

From a conceptual and descriptive point of view, this description still has a fundamental meaning and is associated with the term “intentional creativity”, especially in the Anglo-American language area. There have been and are repeated attempts to add more P terms to the four Ps, which, however, have so far been neither conclusive nor able to establish themselves in creative use.

For all four elements there are factors that determine the appearance of creativity e.g. T. conducive to z. T. are also necessary prerequisites. These then work with one another not in an additive way, but in an interacting way so that creativity can arise.

The creative person

From a psychological point of view, in addition to good, but not necessarily high talents for creativity liquid thought and association joy and the ability to change in perspective important and to cross the border. However, these skills and attitudes can only result in new and useful productions if fleeting ideas are captured and expertly worked out.

The characteristics of creative people can be distinguished from cognitive aspects and personality characteristics . Creative people don't have to have all of these qualities.

Personality traits

According to a meta-analysis with a total of approx. 13,000 people from 80 studies, creative people are autonomous , introverted , open to new experiences , questioning norms , self-confident , self-accepting , ambitious , dominant , negative , poorly compatible and impulsive .

In addition, the following characteristics were found in other studies:

  • Perseverance - Problem-solving processes and challenges cannot always be done quickly, but require a high energy potential. This is shown by constructive tenacity.
  • Intrinsic motivation - The "intrinsic motivational principle of creativity" states that intrinsically motivated action is conducive to creativity, while extrinsic motivation opposes it. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation to work on something primarily for its own sake because it is fun, satisfying, challenging, or otherwise engaging. People are most creative when they are motivated by a passionate interest. Motives given in self-information to pursue a creative activity will u. a. called: the ability to use one's imagination; to feel free; Regulate emotions; express yourself; and strengthen self-esteem.
  • Ambiguity tolerance - creatives have the ability to endure a complicated, contradicting, and uncertain situation while still being able to work on coping with it. You will not be intimidated by ambivalence, contradictions, ambiguities, unresolved tension and complexity. This can prevent (too) quick or one-sided solutions.
  • Spontaneity - Creative people are able to forego long-term planning, act and react spontaneously. They are not only based on their own principles and habits or external regulations.
  • Belief in your own creativity - Those who believe in their own competence do not avoid difficulties and have a higher tolerance for frustration . According to a meta-analysis, there is a positive connection between self-efficacy and all measurement methods for creativity (see creativity test ). However, the relationship is different and, depending on the method used, ranges from weak (r = 0.19 for a drawing performance test) to strong (r = 0.53 for self-assessed creativity).
  • Preference for Complexity - Creatives prefer complex and asymmetrical figures over simple and symmetrical figures. They perceive the former to be lively and dynamic.
  • Curiosity - it is the driving force behind identifying problems and gathering information. Both are the first steps in the creative process.

Self-reflection, the ability to criticize and the courage to change are crucial. In addition to these creative abilities, there are individual personality traits, such as conflict tolerance and vitality, which also influence and promote a person's creative potential.

In addition, the North American creativity researchers Sternberg and Lubart (2006) described a specific success intelligence in their investment theory of creativity. A good idea is followed by conviction of the environment of the value of that idea; a demand arises that increases the value of the idea. Creative people must have a high level of problem sensitivity and a good sense of topic choice.

Cognitive traits

Divergent thinking

Guilford understood creativity as a special form of thinking . He distinguished between “convergent thinking” (when the problem is clearly defined with exactly one solution) and “divergent thinking” ( the kind that goes off in different directions ; when the problem is unclear and there are several possible solutions). The divergent thinking encompassed several dimensions:

  • Problem sensitivity (recognizing that and where there is a problem)
  • Fluency of ideas (generating many ideas in a short time)
  • Flexibility (leaving familiar ways of thinking; developing new perspectives)
  • Redefinition (re-use known objects, improvise)
  • Elaboration (adapting ideas to reality)
  • Originality (unusualness).

Because of its importance for creative achievements and successes, the ability to think divergent is also used to measure the creative potential of people (see creativity test ). The individual dimensions have different meanings according to a meta-analysis from 27 studies with a total of over 47,000 people. For example, elaboration has a higher correlation with creative achievements and successes than fluid ideas. However, the ability to think divergent is differently important for performance and success in different fields of activity. So there are in the examined fields of activity z. B. the greatest connection to divergent thinking in the areas of leadership and art , the least in the area of music .


The leading idea of the interaction between intelligence and creativity is the so-called threshold hypothesis ( threshold hypothesis ). It says that a certain intellectual ability is a necessary condition for creativity. Empirical studies found a threshold value of around 85 IQ points if the criterion for creativity is to have as many ideas as possible. In addition, however, it was found that an IQ of 120 IQ points is the threshold for generating as many original ideas as possible . Above this threshold, the influence of personality traits is more important than intelligence. No threshold was found for providing creative services beyond pure ideas. Accordingly, people with learning disabilities can be extremely creative artistically .

Whether or not a good memory is important to creativity depends on how the person's creativity is measured. The ability to store information in long-term memory and to be able to access it quickly later is associated with creativity in drawing, but not with creativity in language or self-reports on creativity.

School performance

A meta-study of 120 studies with a total of over 50,000 participants found a low to medium correlation (r = 0.22) between school performance and creativity. The relationship is stronger (r = 0.33) among middle school students (around 13-15 years old).

Innate and learned aspects

Neurobiologically, there is a plasticity of the brain from earliest childhood , which, organizing itself, is in constant creative exchange with the environment. Even infants perceive internal and environmental stimuli and actively process them. It is therefore assumed that even very young children unconsciously “compose” their world. This ability persists into old age. The creative production of meaning is particularly pronounced at a young age and is later increasingly replaced by knowledge-related, logical production of meaning. It can be maintained through practice into old age. On the other hand, this ability can also be overlaid by upbringing and education that is one-sidedly oriented towards verbal knowledge.

Many school systems are accused of contributing to the premature stunting of creativity through too strong an orientation towards the acquisition of knowledge and terminology. The learning theories of constructivism therefore combine the classic acquisition of knowledge with free teaching methods so that the learner experiences his environment as a field of hurdles that he can overcome with the help of creative solutions. The creative thought process can be promoted and accelerated by special creativity techniques. Educational institutions that emphasize encouragement promote creativity ( Frederick Mayer ).

When creativity is measured in terms of typical creative behavior, as measured by self- reports or reports from people in the peer group , the heritability of creativity is 62%. On the other hand, the heritability of drawing creativity as measured by performance tests is 26%. In other words, individual differences in typical creative behavior are largely innate, while individual differences in creative intellectual capacity are largely learned. Mothers who are not sober but emotionally involved in their dealings with the child have children with lower creative cognition.

A meta-analysis was able to work out the respective effectiveness of different techniques to train creativity: Creativity trainings that emphasize the technique of analogy building and those that practice identifying the limitations of the situation or environment work best. In contrast, forms of training that are based on expressive forms of expression have strongly negative effects on creative performance.

The creative process

A creative process can be divided into different time phases. The four-phase model by Graham Wallas (1926), which Mihály Csíkszentmihályi developed in the 1990s and Marc A. Runco in the following decade, was historically influential .

In human creativity, the neurological interplay of conceptual-isolating and logical-causal thinking with non-verbal, associative and holistic thinking, which was previously assigned to the non-dominant hemisphere, is of particular importance. The so-called rest networks , whose undisturbed functioning enable combinatorial thinking, are of great practical importance . In the creative process, there is a complex interplay of convergent and divergent, concentrated and associative thinking that is difficult to investigate empirically. Especially the extraordinary creativity eludes the empirical-psychological and neuroscientific methodology because no comparison groups can be formed and the current statistical methods cannot be used. In addition, it is usually not possible to determine whether an exceptionally creative person is currently creative at the time of the examination. In addition, creative top performances are often only recognized much later.

A stable result (real and logically detectable) arises from the combination of

  • Order : compulsion, law, calculation, logical thinking - vertical or convergent thinking and
  • Chaos : freedom, chance, spontaneity - lateral or divergent thinking.
"Every creative process takes place in an ecosystem whose chaos and order, chance and law, freedom and structural constraints, spontaneity and calculation in diverse, constantly changing combinations determine the quantitative and qualitative aspects of this process." - Gottlieb Guntern

New conceptual combinations and new knowledge structures arise through the linking of previously different concepts or, alternatively, through the reorganization of elements within a concept. Accordingly, both general knowledge and specialist knowledge are important for creativity, the latter being particularly important for experts.

The 4-phase model by Graham Wallas (1926) forms the basis for the classification of the thought processes and their connection with further steps that are run through in the creative process. However, these phases rarely occur in their pure form and are recursive rather than linear. It was z. For example, an insight or the aha experience has long been seen as an important phase of the creative process. In the meantime, however, studies have shown that the ability to solve tasks through insight or with an aha experience is not positively correlated with creativity.

According to Csikszentmihalyi (1996), a special state of consciousness - a kind of trance - often occurs in the creative process , which is referred to as flow and is usually associated with a temporary loss of time awareness. This state is concentrated and associative at the same time.

Creative processes can also take place during sleep or half asleep. Famous examples include Nikola Tesla's vision of the three-phase transmission or Friedrich August Kekulé dream of benzene formula. Some creative people try to actively influence this process through lucid dreams .

Since creative thought processes are largely unconscious, new ideas are often experienced as the inspiration of a supra-personal intelligence or entity, the kiss of the muse , etc., or as a mystical guide.,

Creativity techniques should support the creative process, channel it, make it controllable and optimize it in a targeted manner. To this one counts u. a. the Synectics , the brainstorming , De Bono's Six Thinking Hats u. v. a., in engineering e.g. B. also TRIZ or the Kepner-Tregoe matrix.

The creative product

The evaluation of a creative product is subject to different factors. For example, characteristics of the evaluating individual (such as personality and taste) lead to different preferences. A study of over 90,000 people showed that personality traits , such as openness to experience , are strong correlates of preferences for particular paintings and for enjoying visits to art galleries .

When evaluating by a group, it is only possible to evaluate and measure creativity through (often implicit) agreement on a definition and standards for measuring creativity. This process is always subject to the zeitgeist.

Nevertheless, objective properties of the creative product that are independent of the person and that are not subject to the zeitgeist also play a role in the evaluation. An examination of the musical originality of 15,618 themes from classical music examined the importance of objective characteristics and zeitgeist. Both the musical originality of a topic relative to its contemporary works (the zeitgeist) and its "absolute" originality contributed to a similar extent to the popularity of a topic. Similar results could also be shown for linguistic originality.

In art, the pressure to innovate that applies here requires that creativity go hand in hand with breaking norms, i.e. violating traditional norms.

The creative environment

In the creative environment, a distinction is made between the micro level and the macro level. The micro-level concerns the immediate environment of the creative person or the situation in which the creative activity is carried out. It is also referred to as a creative climate (based on the work climate ). The macro level comprises the socio-cultural aspects, the political framework and the zeitgeist . The socio-cultural aspects are sometimes referred to as the creative milieu .

The assessment of creativity by a social group turns out to be a barrier when a problem solution is deemed impractical by the group and rejected. If the group members have a lack of language, this can happen without any justification. A non-conforming individual is suppressed or excluded in this constellation. On rare occasions, creatives have been viewed as crazy but hailed after they passed away. This reaction arises from the group feeling and the image that a group has of itself. Anyone who is compliant with the group brings fewer disruptions and supposedly fewer setbacks in the group's successes.

According to research in social psychology by Schlenker and Weigold, creatives do not conform to the extent that the problem cannot be managed differently according to their criteria.

Of the potentially influencing factors of the creative climate, challenge, intellectual stimulation and positive exchange between colleagues have a particularly strong influence. A work environment in which people find meaningful, engaging work that stimulates reflection and enables an exchange of ideas on important topics is crucial if you want to promote creativity and innovation in a group or organization.

If an idea is subjected to a mental review by different people one after the other, it can happen that this is only declared feasible at a late stage. For example the first aircraft based on da Vinci's drawings or the development of the first binoculars through the discovery of Galileo Galileo . Picasso's Cubist works such as The Man at the Guitar from 1918 and his collages were created through the imagination of the individual. Joan Miró and his work are an example of the sculptural art, and Friedensreich Hundertwasser with his architectural excellence should be mentioned in this area.

The different cultures of mankind, their customs and the living environment repeatedly produce new forms of processing and recombination of the materials and ideas that exist in them, so that the origin of the creative solutions cannot always be proven.

Creative milieu

The concept of the creative milieu was coined by the so-called GREMI group ( Groupe de Recherche Européen sur les Milieux Innovateurs ). Since 1984 a group of French sociologists and regional scientists has been researching the causes of the differences in the innovative capacity and activity of different regions. According to Roberto Camagni (1991), the totality of relationships in a creative milieu, integrated into the socio-cultural environment ( embeddedness ), should lead to a creative collective learning process. In addition to spatial proximity, a prerequisite for implementation is the existence of shared values ​​and trust, a sense of belonging, a coherent space of perception, common organizational forms and methods that reduce uncertainty, as well as lively exchange and low transaction costs .

Another factor related to the creative milieu is the religiosity of the region. For around 3,000 US counties, the percentage of people belonging to the creative class was compared with the number of churches per inhabitant. It was found that there is a moderately negative relationship between church density and the creative class: the higher the church density, the lower the proportion of the creative class. The negative correlation persisted when other factors such as education, income, political orientation, degree of urbanization and predominant industry were taken into account. The author interprets this result to the effect that religiosity is a hindrance to a creative milieu.

However, the milieu can only predict the general creative level of communities or institutions, not individuals. For example, "The general milieu may largely explain why the Renaissance began in Italy, but not why Michelangelo towered over his Italian contemporaries."

Material constraints and creativity

There are controversial discussions in research about the subject of whether material restrictions (e.g. money, materials, equipment) promote or inhibit creativity. There are two competing views on this subject within psychological and business research.

On the one hand, researchers argue that material constraints have a negative effect on creativity by suppressing its development. Proponents of this point of view emphasize the importance of adequate resources in the respective work environment in order to create the conditions for creative results. This includes experimenting with new solutions and generating ideas.

On the other hand, it is believed that people tend to stick to established routines and solutions as long as they are not forced to deviate from them. Consistent with this assumption, Neren emphasizes that material scarcity is the basis for a large number of innovations and is therefore an important driver of creativity. As an example, Michael Gibbert and Philip Scranton show the case study of the development of jet engines during the Second World War , in which material scarcity played a decisive role in the development of a functional solution.

In order to unite these contradicting theoretical assumptions, contingency models were developed. The idea behind these models is that certain contingency factors, such as B. Creativity climate or creativity-enhancing skills that moderate the relationship between material limitations and creativity . These factors reflect that, in connection with material limitations, there are greater challenges in coping with creative tasks and thus also higher demands on the motivation and skills of those who work on the tasks. If these requirements are met, it is assumed that the positive effects of material restrictions on creativity come into play, if not, the negative effects tend to outweigh them. Depending on the contingency factors, there is either a positive or negative relationship between material limitations and creativity.

Significance for economic productivity

A study compared the importance of tertiary education and creativity of the local population for the productivity of a region using data from 257 regions of the EU. A distinction was made between professionals with a degree in creative professions (e.g. natural and social sciences , life science and health , teachers, engineering ...) and professionals with a degree in non-creative professions (government and public authorities, managers, business people, lawyers ...). For the analysis, other potentially influencing characteristics of the regions were also taken into account, such as patents originating from there, the degree of cultural diversity and tolerance , degree of specialization in the manufacturing sector , settlement structure , population density and level of development of the region. The proportion of employed people with a degree in creative occupational fields had an effect on productivity that was around four times as strong as the proportion of employed people with a degree in non-creative occupational fields.

Creativity and Mental Disorders

The myth of a connection between creativity and mental disorders has existed since ancient times. Plato speaks of poetic madness and from Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle, the sentence has been passed down that all extraordinary men are melancholy. However, the text goes on to say that some people feel so melancholy that they get sick. In this sense, melancholy should not be viewed primarily as a disease, but rather as a state of psychological instability.

According to a study by Kay Redfield Jamison , the incidence of bipolar disorder in creative personalities is ten times the incidence in the general population. More than a third of all English and Irish poets born between 1705 and 1805 suffered from bipolar disorder, and more than half from mood disorders, according to Jamison. According to current understanding, creativity is only associated with mild forms or partial aspects of mental illnesses, while strongly pronounced mental illnesses impede creativity. For example, individual positive symptoms of schizophrenia are associated with greater creativity, while schizophrenia as a general disease is associated with less creativity. Also personality disorders in clinically abnormal range are associated with creativity. So have z. B. People with histrionic and schizoid tendencies have better divergent thinking skills.

Often creative activities also serve to cope with and transform tensions or negative experiences.

Creativity tests

In line with the various building blocks mentioned above, there are different approaches in psychological diagnostics for recording individual creativity. Due to the complex concept of creativity , the measurement methods are mostly limited to specific partial aspects.

The ability to think divergent offers an approach to identify creative people. The processes have a similar meaning today as the determination of intelligent performance capabilities. For example, creative potentials are determined in aptitude tests for applicants. The reliability and validity of these test procedures were considered to be low. Critics object that tests on divergent thinking correlate only moderately with actually recognized creative achievements. However, it should be noted that these tests only measure the potential for creativity. A meta-analysis was also able to show that the quantity of creative performance is more closely related to the IQ, but its quality is more closely related to the ability to think divergent. In particular, the English Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) shows good predictive skills . In the German Berlin intelligence structure model , the ability to think divergent is recorded with the component “ingenuity”, but it was criticized that the focus is on the flexible production of ideas.

Biographical methods are an alternative. These methods use quantitative parameters such as B. the number of publications, patents or performances of a piece. According to a meta-analysis on the predictive validity of diagnostic procedures, biographical questionnaires have the best predictive power for professional creativity compared to other recording methods. While this method was originally developed for highly creative personalities, it is now also available as a self-disclosure questionnaire supplemented by frequent, less outstanding activities such as writing a short story or creating your own recipes. The Creative Achievement Questionnaire , which is also available in German, is the self- disclosure questionnaire most frequently used in research. This asks in ten different areas (e.g. fine arts, music) in the degree of increasing creative activities.

On the basis of a study of 974 creativity-related variables, a variant of the meta-analysis was able to show that the TTCT and biographical self-disclosure questionnaires are best suited for measuring creativity.

See also


  • Teresa Amabile: Creativity in Context: Update to “The social psychology of creativity”. Westview Press, Boulder (Co) 1996.
  • Arthur J. Cropley: Creativity and Creativity Enhancement. In DH Rost (editor): Concise dictionary of educational psychology. Beltz Fachverlag, Psychologie Verlags Union, Weinheim 1998, ISBN 978-3-621-27408-1 , pp. 272-277.
  • Mihály Csíkszentmihályi : Creativity. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-608-91774-8 . (Original version: Creativity. Harper Collins, New York 1996, ISBN 0-06-017133-2 )
  • Martin Dresler, Tanja G. Baudson: Creativity. Contributions from the natural sciences and humanities. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-7776-1630-8 .
  • Kieran CR Fox, Kalina Christoff (editors): The Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought (Oxford Library of Psychology). Oxfort University Press, New York 2018, ISBN 978-0-19-046474-5 , pp. 275-354.
  • Daniel Goleman , Paul Kaufman, Michael Ray: Discover creativity. Hanser, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-446-19110-0 . (Original version: The Creative Spirit. Dutton, New York 1992, ISBN 0-525-93354-9 )
  • Arthur Koestler : The divine spark . The creative act in art and science. Scherz, Bern 1966.
  • Hans Lenk : Creative ascents. On the philosophy and psychology of creativity . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 2000, ISBN 3-518-29056-8 .
  • Alex F. Osborn : Applied Imagination. Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving. Scribner, New York 1953, ISBN 0-02-389520-9 .
  • Paul B. Paulus, Bernard A. Nijstad (Eds.): Group Creativity: Innovation Through Collaboration. Oxford University Press, London 2003, ISBN 0-19-514730-8 .
  • Andreas Reckwitz : The Invention of Creativity - On the Process of Social Aestheticization. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 2012, ISBN 978-3-518-29595-3 ( excerpt online )
  • Andreas Reckwitz: Creativity and Social Practice - Studies on Social and Society Theory. Transcript Verlag , Bielefeld 2016, ISBN 978-3-8376-3345-0 .
  • Gustav Ripke: Creativity and Diagnostics. Lit, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-8867-3 .
  • Mark A. Runco: Creativity. Theories and Themes: Research, Development, and Practice. 2nd edition, Elsevier Academic Press, Burlington (MA) 2014.
  • Mark A. Runco & Steven Pritzker: Encyclopedia of Creativity. 3rd edition, Oxford Academic Press, 2020. ISBN 978-0128156148
  • R. Keith Sawyer: Individual and Group Creativity. Chapter 19 in: James C. Kaufman, Robert J. Sternberg (editors): The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-511-76320-5 , pp. 366-380 ( doi: 10.1017 / CBO9780511763205.023 ).

Web links

Wiktionary: Creativity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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