Inventing Dumplings: The Joy and Frustration of Psychological Creativity

#846; Ben’s Even Bigger Idea

This Wondermark cartoon is an excellent example of “psychological creativity.”  It also captures the frustration of finding out that someone else already had the idea and is profiting from it.

Also referred to as “mundane creativity” or “small c creativity”, this type of creativity involves generating a new idea, product or process that is new TO YOU. It doesn’t matter how many other people already came up with the idea, you were still engaging in creative thinking when you came up with the idea.

This is the type of creativity I study under the assumption that creative thinking is important for our survival. Everybody needs to be creative in order to be able to deal with any breaks from normal routine and events.  If the ability to think creatively is a necessary survival skill,  by necessity it needs to involve normal cognitive processes (e.g., memory retrieval, analogy, reasoning) operating on normal knowledge structures (e.g., concepts, categories, schemas).

Besides, when you think about it, every example of historical creativity (“Big C Creativity”), started off as an example of psychological creativity. This means that the more we understand about the processes and knowledge that result in psychological creativity, the more we understand about historical creativity.

What is it that allows a psychologically creative idea turn into an historically creative idea? I suspect it is due (in part) to the degree to which generative processes (e.g., visualization, conceptual combination, abstraction) are engaged in while developing and exploring the idea as well as the influence of environmental (e.g., support for creativity) and personality variables (e.g., risk taking, openness to experience).

Figuring out the variables and interactions between variables that turn a psychologically creative idea into an historically creative idea is what makes creativity research so incredibly interesting!

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