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Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts

ISBN: 978-0-470-03622-8
416 pages
June 2006
Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts (0470036222) cover image


How cognitive psychology explains human creativity

Conventional wisdom holds that creativity is a mysterious quality present in a select few individuals. The rest of us, the common view goes, can only stand in awe of great creative achievements: we could never paint Guernica or devise the structure of the DNA molecule because we lack access to the rarified thoughts and inspirations that bless geniuses like Picasso or Watson and Crick. Presented with this view, today's cognitive psychologists largely differ finding instead that "ordinary" people employ the same creative thought processes as the greats. Though used and developed differently by different people, creativity can and should be studied as a positive psychological feature shared by all humans.

Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts presents the major psychological theories of creativity and illustrates important concepts with vibrant and detailed case studies that exemplify how to study creative acts with scientific rigor.

Creativity includes:
* Two in-depth case studies--Watson and Crick's modeling of the DNA structure and Picasso's painting of Guernica-- serve as examples throughout the text
* Methods used by psychologists to study the multiple facets of creativity
* The "ordinary thinking" or cognitive view of creativity and its challengers
* How problem-solving and experience relate to creative thinking
* Genius and madness and the relationship between creativity and psychopathology
* The possible role of the unconscious in creativity
* Psychometrics--testing for creativity and how personality factors affect creativity
* Confluence theories that use cognitive, personality, environmental, and other components to describe creativity

Clearly and engagingly written by noted creativity expert Robert Weisberg, Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts takes both students and lay readers on an in-depth journey through contemporary cognitive psychology, showing how the discipline understands one of the most fundamental and fascinating human abilities.

"This book will be a hit. It fills a large gap in the literature. It is a well-written, scholarly, balanced, and engaging book that will be enjoyed by students and faculty alike."
--David Goldstein, University of Toronto
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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Credits xix

CHAPTER 1 Two Case Studies in Creativity 1

Beliefs about Creativity 4

Two Case Studies in Creativity 6

Creativity in Science: Discovery of the Double Helix 6

Conclusions: Watson and Crick’s Discovery of the Double Helix 31

Artistic Creativity: Development of Picasso’s Guernica 34

Structure in Creative Thinking: Conclusions from the Case Studies 51

Revisiting the Question of Artistic Creativity versus Scientific Discovery 54

Beyond Case Studies: Outline of the Book 57

CHAPTER 2 The Study of Creativity 59

Outline of the Chapter 59

Creative Product, Creative Process, and Creative Person: Questions of Definition 60

Method versus Theory in the Study of Creativity 72

Methods of Studying Creativity 73

An Introduction to Theories of Creativity 90

CHAPTER 3 The Cognitive Perspective on Creativity, Part I: Ordinary Thinking, Creative Thinking, and Problem Solving 104

Outline of the Chapter 105

Basic Cognitive Components of Ordinary Thinking 106

General Characteristics of Ordinary Thinking 108

Creative Thinking and Ordinary Thinking: Conclusions 118

The Cognitive Analysis of Problem Solving 119

An Example of Problem Solving 121

Solving a Problem: Questions of Definition 123

A Brief History of the Cognitive Perspective on Problem Solving 128

Problem Solving: Processes of Understanding and Search 135

Strategies for Searching Problem Spaces 141

Weak Heuristic Methods of Problem Solving and Creative Thinking: Conclusions 152

CHAPTER 4 The Cognitive Perspective on Creativity, Part II: Knowledge and Expertise in Problem Solving 153

Outline of the Chapter 154

Use of Knowledge in Problem Solving: Studies of Analogical Transfer 155

Strong Methods in Problem Solving: Studies of Expertise 168

Outline of a Cognitive- Analytic Model of Problem Solving: Strong and Weak Methods in Problem Solving 178

The Cognitive Perspective on Problem Solving and Creativity: Conclusions and Implications 180

The Creative Cognition Approach: A Bottom- Up Analysis of Creative Thinking 183

Skepticism about Expertise and Creativity 189

Practice or Talent? 191

Expertise and Achievement: Reproductive or Productive? 198

Expertise, Knowledge, and Experience versus Creativity: The Tension View 203

The Cognitive Perspective on Problem Solving and Creativity: Conclusions 207

CHAPTER 5 Case Studies of Creativity: Ordinary Thinking in the Arts, Science, and Invention 209

Outline of the Chapter 210

Basic Components of Ordinary Thinking 210

The 10- Year Rule in Creative Development 212

Case Studies of Creativity in the Visual Arts 223

Case Studies of Creativity in Science 237

Scientific Creativity: Scientific Discovery as Problem Solving 254

The Wright Brothers’ Invention of the Airplane 255

Thomas Edison as a Creative Thinker: Themes and Variations Based on Analogy 261

James Watt’s Invention of the Steam Engine 275

Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin 278

Ordinary Thinking in Invention: Summary 280

Case Studies of Creativity: Conclusions 280

CHAPTER 6 The Question of Insight in Problem Solving 282

Outline of the Chapter 286

The Gestalt Analysis of Insight: Problem Solving and Perception 286

Evidence to Support the Gestalt View 291

The Neo-Gestalt View: Heuristic- Based Restructuring in Response to Impasse 302

Challenges to the Gestalt View 308

An Elaboration of the Cognitive- Analytic Model to Deal with Restructuring and Insight 325

A Critical Reexamination of Evidence in Support of the Gestalt View 330

Insight in Problem Solving: Conclusions and Implications 339

CHAPTER 7 Out of One’s Mind, Part I: Muses, Primary Process, and Madness 341

Outline of the Chapter 342

Messengers of the Gods 342

Primary Process and Creativity 343

Genius and Madness: Bipolarity and Creativity 356

Mood Disorders and Creativity: The Question of Causality 363

The Role of Affect in Creativity 368

Genius and Madness: Schizophrenia and Creativity 371

Social Factors and Genius and Madness 375

A Reconsideration of Some Basic Data 382

Genius and Madness: Conclusions 384

CHAPTER 8 Out of One’s Mind, Part II: Unconscious Processing, Incubation, and Illumination 386

Outline of the Chapter 386

Unconscious Associations and Unconscious Processing 387

Poincaré’s Theory of Unconscious Creative Processes 389

Wallas’s Stages of the Creative Process 397

Hadamard’s Studies of Unconscious Thinking in Incubation 398

Koestler’s Bisociation Theory 399

Campbell’s Evolutionary Theory of Creativity: Blind Variation and Selective Retention 400

Simonton’s Chance Configuration Theory 402

Csikszentmihalyi’s Theory of the Unconscious in Creative Thinking 407

Unconscious Thinking in Creativity: Conclusions 413

Laboratory Investigations of Incubation and Illumination 414

Evidence for Incubation and Illumination: A Critique 428

Illumination without Unconscious Processing? 433

Incubation, Illumination, and the Unconscious: Conclusions 445

CHAPTER 9 The Psychometric Perspective, Part I: Measuring the Capacity to Think Creatively 447

Outline of the Chapter 448

Guilford and the Modern Psychometric Perspective on Creativity 448

Methods of Measuring Creativity 451

Cognitive Components of the Creative Process: Testing for Creative-Thinking Ability 461

Testing the Tests: The Reliability and Validity of Tests of Creative-Thinking Capacity 470

The Generality versus Domain Specifi city of Creative- Thinking Skills 483

Testing Creativity: Conclusions 487

CHAPTER 10 The Psychometric Perspective, Part II: The Search for the Creative Personality 488

Creative versus Comparison or Control Groups 489

Questions about Method in Studies of the Creative Personality 492

A Model of the Role of Creative Personality in Creative Achievement in Science 496

Is It Futile to Search for The Creative Personality in the Arts and the Sciences? 504

Creativity and the Need to Be Original: A Reexamination of Divergent Thinking and Creativity 506

Personality, Cognition, and Creativity Reconsidered: The Question of Openness to Experience and Creativity 508

Divergent Thinking and the Creative Personality: Conclusions 515

CHAPTER 11 Confluence Models of Creativity 517

Outline of the Chapter 517

The Social Psychology of Creativity: Amabile’s Componential Model 518

Economic Theory of Creativity: Buy Low, Sell High 534

The Darwinian Theory of Creativity 552

Confluence Models of Creativity: Summary 570

CHAPTER 12 Understanding Creativity: Where Are We? Where Are We Going? 572

Outline of the Chapter 572

Ordinary versus Extraordinary Processes in Creativity 573

Ordinary Thinking in Creativity 575

Extraordinary Processes in Creativity? 586

On Using Case Studies to Study Creativity 592

Is It Possible to Test the Hypothesis That “Ordinary Thinking” Is the Basis for Creativity? 594

On Creative Ideas and Creative People 596

References 600

Index 613

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Author Information

ROBERT W. WEISBERG, PHD, is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Brain, Behavior, and Cognition Cluster at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A cognitive psychologist, Dr. Weisberg's area of interest is creative thinking, particularly the cognitive processes involved in the intentional production of novelty. He has published papers investigating cognitive mechanisms underlying problem solving, and has published papers and books examining the cognitive processes underlying creative thinking, including Creativity: Genius and Other Myths and Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius.
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The Wiley Advantage

1.  Book demonstrates how to compare, contrast, and apply theories in an academic way.


2.  The author writes well and uses case studies in an engaging way to make the abstract concrete.

3.  The author is a well-known expert in field and an experienced teacher of courses on cognition and creativity.

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"It's a special treat to read a book that goes against conventional wisdom and that reinterprets past work in a light of a new theory." (PsycCritiques, April 25, 2007)

"Among science's many joys is the devlish joy of contrarianism. It's a special treat to read a book that goes against conventional wisdom and that reinterprets past work in light of a new theory. Robert Weisberg's hefty, heterodox Creativity: Understand Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts is a major work for the psychology of creativity."
—Paul J. Silvia (PsycCRITIQUES)

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