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

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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:

â 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

â Methods used by psychologists to study the multiple facets of creativity

â The "ordinary thinking" or cognitive view of creativity and its challengers

â How problem-solving and experience relate to creative thinking

â Genius and madness and the relationship between creativity and psychopathology

â The possible role of the unconscious in creativity

â Psychometrics--testing for creativity and how personality factors affect creativity

â 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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Product details

  • Hardback | 640 pages
  • 157.5 x 236.2 x 35.6mm | 997.91g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0471739995
  • 9780471739999
  • 1,185,893

Back cover copy

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
show more

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


Poincare 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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Review quote

"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)
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About Robert W. Weisberg

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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17 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 35% (6)
4 41% (7)
3 24% (4)
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