Index

Promoting Human Creativity

© 1993, David S. Walonick, Ph.D.

Defining creativity

How do we define creativity? The most frequent answers are "new", "unique". "different", and "better". The dictionary provides little assistance: "creativity: the ability to create". Creativity consultant Joyce Wycoff (1991) defines creativity as "new and useful". Creativity is the act of "seeing things that everyone around us sees while making connections that no on else has made." (p. 22)

At the other end of the spectrum, B.F Skinner (1974), the foremost expert on behaviorist theory, describes creative individuals as very good at generating mutations. He points out that people who produce more mutations are more likely to generate one that is reinforcing. The behaviorist theory falls short because it fails to recognize or explain the uniqueness of individuals.

In the classic book Science and Human Values, (Harper & Row. 1956) J. Bronowski states that the creative activity of the scientist and the artist are the same. Creativity is an attempt to discover "hidden likeness" in the universe. It is a search for recognition and order.

Many writers and artists have described creativity as something external to the body. They believe that the source of inspiration exists outside the person. Author Joseph Heller describes his own experience. "I don't understand the process of imagination though I know that I am very much at its mercy. I feel like these ideas are floating around in the air and they pick me to settle upon. The ideas come to me. I don't produce them at will" (Zdenek, 1983, p.10).

In contrast, business analysis Scott Witt (1983) believes that new ideas are never original, but rather, they involve the combining and adaptation of other people's ideas. He refers to the brightest people in business, science and arts, as Creative Copycats because their ideas are an adaptation of other products, formulas or systems.

Child development author Joseph Chilton Pearce describes creativity as "moving from the known to the unknown." Culture exerts a negative force on creativity according to Pearce, however, "were it not for creativity, culture itself would not be created". (Pearce, 1974, p. 23)

Donald Hebb, one of the foremost theoreticians on the subject of the human brain, believes that "every normal human being is creative all the time...it is not something that occurs only in outstanding individuals". (Restak, 1984, p. 228)

Creativity is an expression of our unique perspective to a situation or problem. It transcends our desire to be part of the group. Abraham Maslow referred to self-actualization as the need to express our individual talents and become the best that we can. It is a drive to fulfill our potential. Maslow identified fifteen traits of a self-actualized person. These included highly valued traits such as self-acceptance, spontaneity, independence, tolerance, altruism, ethics, and capable of loving others. (Wycoff, 1991, p. 24)

Wycoff (1991, p. 26) identifies four traits found in creative people:

1) They are willing to take risks and have the courage to be wrong.

2) They are willing to express their thoughts and feelings.

3) They have a sense of humor.

4) They accept and trust their own intuition.

David Perkins, of Harvard University, has identified several other traits common in creative people: (Wycoff, 1991, p. 27)

5) They have a drive to find order in a chaotic situation.

6) They are interested in unusual problems, as well as solutions.

7) They have the ability to make new connections and challenge traditional assumptions.

8) They temper idea creation by testing and judgment.

9) They enjoy pushing the boundaries of their competence.

10) They are motivated by the problem itself, rather than any kind of reward or recognition.

Wycoff believes that the traits of creativity can be taught. She points out the near total failure of our educational system to encourage and teach these characteristics. In fact, it would seem that our schools are teaching the opposite traits (e.g., discipline, conformity, silence, and "safe" thinking). Robert Root-Bernstein, a physiologist at Michigan State University, points out that "our greatest scientists are generally skilled in non-verbal thinking, yet we usually discourage science students from studying artistic subjects". (Wycoff, 1991, p. 178)

The phases involved in the creative process were first described by German physiologist Herman Helmholtz in the late nineteenth century. (Edwards, 1986, p. 3) He identified three stages of creativity: saturation, incubation and illumination. In the first decade of twentieth century, French mathematician Henri Poincaré identified a fourth step that follows the other three. Verification is putting a solution into concrete form and checking it for errors or usefulness. Our understanding of the creative process remained stable until the early 1960s, when American psychologist Jacob Getzels proposed the idea that a preliminary stage of creativity involves finding or formulating a problem. (Edwards, 1986, p. 4) This preliminary stage was named first insight by another American psychologist, George Kneller. (1965)

Current thinking is that the creative process does involve at least five distinct phases: first insight, saturation, incubation, illumination and verification. Illumination happens in a flash--it is the brief moment of the "Ah-Ha!" experience. The other phases of creativity vary dramatically in the amount of time involved. Saturation and verification are easily understood. Saturation is the information gathering stage. There have been volumes written on how to do research, and libraries are designed to assist in gathering information. The process of verification is the implementation or testing of an idea, and it is also easily accessible to our human understanding. Note that both saturation and verification have to do with conscious thought. The other three phases (first insight, incubation, and illumination) are more mysterious and operate at some sort of subconscious level.

Betty Edwards (1987), a professor of art at California State University, identified four experiences of a creative artist. During the initial stages of drawing, an artist works for long periods without a sense of time passing. While drawing, the artist has a feeling that the object is somehow related to, or looks like something else. The artist has a need to work in isolation, away from verbal interruption. The artist has a special way of seeing the whole field, while somehow being able to perceive the relationships of the individual parts.

Of particular interest is the phase of illumination. Edwards (1986, p. 39) proposes that the "Ah-Ha" is a visual experience. She points out that many of the words relating to creativity involve visual reference. Creativity is the: "the ability to see problems in new ways", "to see things from a new perspective", and "the knack of looking for answers in unexpected places". The dictionary defines illumination as "throwing light on a subject in order to see it better". Insight, foresight, hindsight, and clear-sightedness all contain visual reference. The flash of illumination is accompanied by feeling of certainty and exhilaration.

Author Joe Khatena (1978) describes four creative thinking abilities: 1) Fluency is the ability to produce many ideas for a given task. 2) Flexibility is the ability to show a conceptual shift in thinking relative to a given task. 3) Originality is the ability to produce unusual or clever ideas that not many other people think of. 4) Elaboration is the ability to add details to the basic idea.

Barriers to creativity

There are many obstacles to creativity. The major barrier is the little voice in our heads giving all the reasons why we can't do something, or why something won't work. We must silence the voice during the initial stages of creative process. Logical, critical and judgmental thoughts will reduce the quality of the initial creative process.

Edwards proposes the idea that language itself might actually hinder creative thinking. She believes that direct perception is an integral part of our thinking, a way of "seeing" without using words.

One of the major obstacles to creativity is the fear of rejection. Rejection can become disabling when is stops us from taking action. Fear of rejection, or rejection itself, can stifle creativity.

Morris Berman (1989) made adaptations to Freud's theory and discusses how creativity is thwarted in the young child. Type I occurs when the child's sensual exploration of her surroundings is hindered. Curiosity is minimized and the child no longer engages in exploration of the environment. Type II comes as a result of psychic upheaval. While the child's creativity survives, she is plagued by the pain and conflict of neurosis. Type III creativity emerges when the child avoids the emotional trauma of repression and creativity exists without conflict. (Ferguson,1990, p. 180)

Freud's paradigm for understanding creativity does not appear to be useful or correct, possibly because he dealt so much with the abnormal. In fact, several researchers have found that creative people tend to be more depressed than the general population. They are more prone to alcoholism, mood-swings and suicide. Emotionally disturbed and behavior-disorientated children often show creativity levels exceeding their peers. It is interesting, however, that while these relationships exist, creativity itself is manifested during comparatively stable emotional states. Does emotional instability generate creativity, or does creativity produce emotional instability, or does the relationship involve some hidden variable not yet understood? The answers have yet to be determined.

Joseph Chilton Pearce believes that "culturization" is the reason we loose our creative abilities. He states that "cultural conditioning makes it unlikely that we ever consider anything outside the confines of cultural acceptances". (Pearce, 1974, p. 49) Pearce believes that creativity is associated with a hypnotic-like trance state. The ability to enter a trance-like state appears at around age seven in all cultures, and in western cultures, it disappears during early adolescence. Only 20% of the adults in this country retain their childhood ability to enter a deep trance.

Piaget discusses preadolescent "reality adjustment" as the last phase of a child's "magical thinking". This, according to Piaget, is the beginning of true maturation. Pearce takes an exactly opposite view, and discusses the idea that the preadolescent's "reality adjustment" marks the loss of creative potential. Beginning around age nine or ten, the child begins to adopt a kind of cultural logic, that defines their perceptual reality. By age fourteen, the adolescent has internalized the cultural reality, and thoughts outside the limits of cultural acceptance are difficult or impossible. Our "world view" becomes an editor of our precepts. Pearce states that "acculturation subverts, but never destroys creativity". (Pearce, 1974, p. 197)

Promoting creativity

Creativity is a popular topic today, and several books and journals articles are dedicated to the subject. Many people believe that creativity is somehow dependent on "natural talent". Most researchers, however, indicate that the skills involved in creativity are something that can be taught and learned.

In A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von Oech (1983) describes the characteristics that promote the creative process. These might be thought of as guidelines for a brainstorming session:

1) Generate as many answers as possible. Don't look for the one "right answer".

2) Don't ask if something is "logical".

3) Set aside all rules.

4) Don't judge the quality of an idea by looking at its "practicality".

5) Allow ambiguity.

6) Don't worry about being wrong.

7) Indulge yourself...let yourself play.

8) Let yourself go into new areas.

9) Be foolish and silly.

10) Accept your own creativity.

11) Make yourself receptive to new ideas.

Scott Witt adds that confidence, independence, and curiosity are the prime ingredients of ingenuity. Witt maintains that creative people have unbending confidence in their ability to come up with solutions to problems, and that they enjoy leaving the beaten path and exploring unusual possibilities. Most researchers stress the visual aspect of creativity, however, Witt emphasizes the power of word associations (wildcatting) in generating ideas. (Witt, 1983)

In the late 1970s, E. Paul Torrance from the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia, conducted several experiments to determine if creative thinking can be taught. After numerous trials involving hundreds of subjects, Torrance and coworkers found that brief and intensive training can change our thinking to include more right-brain processes. After training, subjects were better able to apply right and left hemisphere modes in a complementary way. (Ferguson, 1990)

Recent research by Terry Greene and Helga Noice states that the act of complementing students on their clothing, hair and/or jewelry will improve their performance on creativity tests. While their sample sizes are small, startling differences are apparent. Creativity is somehow related to the emotional state of the creator. (Ferguson, 1990)

Texas A&M chemist Thomas Taylor (1983) explored the effects of a sensory deprivation float tank on learning. Floaters listened to lessons with floating in the tank. Nonfloaters listened to the same lessons in a quite darkened room. Three levels of learning were measured: rote learning, the ability to apply information to new situations, and the ability to use the information in unique and creative ways (synthesis thinking). Taylor reported that floaters learned better for all three levels, but that they were vastly superior in synthesis (creative) thinking.

Michael Hutchison in Megabrain (1986) points out the importance of stimulating the brain with challenges, change, ambiguities, and novel experiences. A variety of devices have been developed by inventors who claim to be able to enhance creativity.

An electronic device known as the Alpha Stim applies microampere current through the earlobes to stimulate the brain. Physician William Bauer (1983) of Case Western University believes that the electricity produced by the device alters the neurochemicals in the brain, thus establishing the energy for creation. Another device known as the BT5 developed by Bob Beck uses a similar technique to apply current to the indentation in the jaw below the earlobes. I have used the BT5 on several occasions. While it does evoke a slight change in consciousness, I cannot report any perceptible improvement in my own creativity.

Several techniques and devices have been designed to produce brain wave entrainment at theta and alpha frequencies. These brain waves are characterized by low frequencies (between five and twelve Hertz), and are associated with relaxation, lucid dreaming, and creativity. The reasoning is that by artificially altering brain waves to the frequencies that are associated with creativity, we can thereby enhance creativity. The main idea is that the brain can be induced to "lock on" (i.e., to become entrained) to an artificially produced signal.

Biophysicist Gerald Oster from the New York Mount Sinai School of Medicine, reported in 1973 that two tones of different frequencies could produce brain wave entrainment if the tones were played into different ears. The beat frequency, or the difference between the two tones, could produce brain wave entrainment in the delta, theta and alpha frequencies. Author Robert Monroe referred to this phenomenon as frequency following response, and designed and patented a technique for creating audio tapes called Hemi-Sync. In a series of EEG experiments, Monroe reported that audio entrainment also caused both hemispheres of the brain to work in unison. (Hutchison, 1986, p. 199) I have used several brands of entrainment audio tapes on many occasions. They do indeed produce rapid relaxation and a change of consciousness. I usually fall asleep quite quickly when I listen to these tapes. I cannot report any direct improvement in my own creativity, although I would describe my brief presleep thoughts as "strange", or kind of "off-the-wall".

Neurophysiologist W. Gray Walter conducted a series of experiments in the 1950s using flashing lights to produce brain wave entrainment. During photic driving (entrainment), both hemispheres of the brain would work in unison. During the 1960s and 1970s a flurry of studies explored the photo driving phenomena. The result is that many photo driving devices have been designed. The most popular, known as the Synchro-Energizer, was patented by Ohio psychiatrist Denis Gorges. (Hutchison, 1986) It uses a combination of flashing lights and audio tones to produce brain wave entrainment. I have used a device similar to the Synchro-Energizer on many occasions. It does produce a rapid change of consciousness, and again, I would describe my thoughts as sort of "different". However, I do not recall any creative revelations while using the device. Like the Hemi-Sync tapes, I generally fall asleep very quickly.

Physicist Bob Beck has designed another entrainment device known as the Magnetic Mood Pacer II. This device produces a pulsed magnetic field at 7.83 Hertz to produce a magnetic field similar to the background radiation of the Earth. Beck claims his device makes people feel good (Hutchison, 1986). I developed a similar device and have used it on myself and others on many occasions. EEG experiments confirm that brain waves do indeed become entrained with rotating magnetic fields and magnetically pulsed fields.

Magnetic field generators are different from the other devices. They do not require the active participation of the person being exposed to the magnetic fields. They are nonintrusive, and there is no conscious awareness of their presence. Creative endeavors such as brainstorming sessions might be enhanced by the artificial generation of alpha and theta-range magnetic fields.

Several drugs have been developed to promote intelligence. A particular class of these drugs is known as nootropics. None of the nootropics are FDA approved, so there are no sales in the United States, however, they can be purchased over the counter in most European countries and Mexico. (Dean and Morgenthaler, 1990, p. 43-51)

Piracetam is the most well-known nootropic. A large number of animal and human double-blind controlled studies indicate that piracetam does indeed enhance cognition. In a 1976 study of rats, neurophysiologists Buresova and Bures found that piracetam promotes the flow of information between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Communication between the hemispheres is often associated with creative thought. In a more recent study, Wilsher Dilanni and a team of neurologists (1985) found significant improvements in dyslexic children. They theorized that the increased communication between the hemispheres was responsible for the improvement.

In spite of the U.S. ban, piracetam is being manufactured and marketed by most major pharmaceutical companies. Whether or not piracetam actually enhances creativity has yet to be determined. However, the number of brand names that the drug is marketed under stands as a testimonial to the public's perception of its usefulness. These include: Avigilen, Cerebroforte, Cerebrospan, Cetam, Dinagen, Encefalux, Encetrop, Euvifor, Gabacet, Genogris, Memo-Puren, Nootron, Nootrop, Nootropil, Nootropyl, Normabrain, Norzetam, Novocetam, Pirroxil, Pscoton, Stimucortex, and UCB-6215.

Another class of drugs believed to enhance creativity is known as psychotropics. These include highly controversial and illegal drugs such as marijuana, LSD25, mescaline, and psilocybin. While government hysteria has essentially banned current research, a variety of studies conducted in the 1960's indicated that the illumination stage of creativity can be enhanced by the use of these drugs. In 1966, Willis Harman and a team of psychologists conducted a pilot study to examine the effects of mescaline sulfate on creativity. (Tart, 1972, p. 455-472) They used several objective instruments (Purdue Creativity Test, Miller Object Visualization, and Within Embedded Figures Test), as well as subjective reports from a variety of sources including the subjects' self evaluations, psychiatric assessments, and industry feedback. Significant improvements in creativity were reported. Subjects' self-reports suggested eleven possible mechanisms to explain the improvement. Note the striking similarities between subject's beliefs about their creativity, and the traits proposed by Wycoff, Perkins and von Oech.

1) Low inhibition and anxiety

2) Capacity to structure problems in a larger context

3) High fluency and flexibility of ideation

4) High capacity for visual imagery and fantasy

5) High ability to concentrate

6) High empathy with external processes and objects

7) High empathy with people

8) Accessibility of unconscious resources

9) Ability to associate seemingly dissimilar elements in meaningful ways

10) High motivation

11) Capacity to visualize the completed solution in its entirety

Brain waves of creativity

Roger Sperry and Michael S. Gazzaniga performed a series of experiments on epileptic patients in the early late 1950s and early 1960s, where they cut the corpus callosum which connects the two brain hemispheres. When the two halves of the brain could not communicate with each other, it became clear that each half had its own traits. The left brain is responsible for language, logic, numbers, sequence, detail, linear processes, symbolic representation and making judgments. The right brain processes images, rhythm, music, imagination, color, patterns, emotions and is nonjudgmental. (Restak, 1984, p. 246-248)

The right and left hemispheres of the brain are in communication with each other through the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerves joining the two halves of the brain. Because of their different modes of thinking, the two halves of our brains might experience conflicting interpretations of awareness. Many theorists have suggested that creativity is a right-brain experience, however, some believe that creativity somehow involves the communication between the hemispheres.

Norman Don of the University of Illinois studied EEG patterns of individuals while they were meditating. Subjects self-reported peak experiences were preceded by a significant collapse of the alpha frequencies. (Ferguson, 1990)

Elmer and Alice Green (1977) of the Menninger Foundation believe that theta brain waves are the source of creative thinking. They used EEG biofeedback to teach people to enter the theta state. Participants reported that while in the theta state, they relived (actually experienced) past long-forgotten events. The also found that participants had "new and valid ideas or synthesis of ideas, not primarily by deduction, by springing by intuition, from unconscious sources". (Hutchison, 1986, p. 97) One hypothesis is that theta waves, which have high amplitudes and low frequencies, somehow enable the brain cells to form new neural structures.

Lester Fehmi, director of the Princeton Biofeedback Research Institute, believes that hemispheric synchronization may provide one of the clues to understanding creativity. Synchronization occurs when both hemispheres of the brain generate the same brain waves. Fehmi describes the synchronization experience as a feeling of "into-it-ness", or a feeling of being more unified with the experience. Hutchison, 1986, p. 219)

Chemist Thomas Taylor studied the EEG patterns of students while they synthesized information, by using the information in a creative way to solve a new problem. Taylor found that brain waves were in the theta state at the moment when the concepts "made sense" to the students. During the brief theta experience, Taylor reported a series of powerful fluctuations taking place throughout the brain. (Hutchison, 1986, p. 292)

Summary

Creativity is an area of human development that encompasses the future of our planet. Traditional ways of seeing the world and dealing with social issues no longer seem adequate. Clearly, we are in need of new and creative approaches to our problems. Anything we can do to promote creativity is a step in the right direction.

References

Bauer, W. "Neuroelectric Medicine." Journal of Bioelectricity, Vol. 2, No. 2 & 3 (1983) p. 382-383.

Berman, M. 1989. Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Buresova, O. and Bures, J. "Piracetam-Induced Facilitation of Interhemispheric Transfer of Visual Information in Rats," Psychopharmacologia, Vol. 46 (1976) p. 93-102.

Dean, W. and Morgenthaler, J. 1990. Smart Drugs & Nutrients. Santa Cruz: B&J Publications.

Dilanni, M., et. al. "The Effects of Piracetam in Children with Dyslexia," Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Vol. 5 (1985) p. 272-278.

Edwards, B. 1987. Drawing on the Artist Within. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Ferguson, M. 1990. PragMagic. New York: Pocket Books.

Green, E. and Green, A. 1977. Beyond Biofeedback. New York: Delacorte.

Hutchison, M. 1986. Megabrain: New Tools and Techniques for Brain Growth and Mind Expansion. New York: Ballantine.

Khatena, J. 1978. The Creatively Gifted Child: Suggestions for Parents and Teachers. New York: Vantage Press.

Kneller, G. 1965. The Art and Science of Creativity. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Martone, L. and Fredenburgh, F. 1973. Exploring Human Behavior: Student Study Guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Michalko, M. 1991. Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Businees Creativity for the 90's. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Oster, G. "Auditory Beats in the Brain," Scientific American, (Sept, 1973).

Pearce, J. C. 1974. Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Restak, R. 1984. The Brain. New York: Bantam.

Skinner, B.F. 1974. About Behaviorism. New York: Random House.

Talbot, M. 1988. Beyond the Quantum. New York: Bantam.

Tart, C. 1972. Altered States of Consciousness. New York: Doubleday.

Taylor, T. "Learning Studies for Higher Cognitive Levels in a Short-Term Sensory Isolation Environment." Paper delivered at the first International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation, Denver, Colo. (March 17, 1983).

von Oech, R. 1990. A Whack on the Side of the Head. New York: Warner Books.

Witt, S. 1983. How to be Twice as Smart. New York: Parker.

Wycoff, J. 1991. Mindmapping: Your Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving. New York: Berkley Books.

Zdenek, M. 1983. The Right Brain Experience. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Annotated Bibliography Related to Creativity

Cushman, A. (et. al.) "Are You Creative?," Utne Reader, No. 50 (March-April, 1992) p. 53-69.

A series of articles and excerpts on creativity extracted from a variety of publications. The author describes creativity workshops and salons in writing, art, acting, and music. Seven guidelines are presented: 1) trust your intuition, 2) stay in the present, 3) don't cross out things you've written, 4) work on the process instead of the product, 5) don't analyze what you've done, 6) special talent is not necessary, and 7) practice extensively.

Donovan, R., "Plugged into the Idea Generator." Writer's Digest, Vol. 71, No. 3 (March, 1991) p. 66-68.

The article describes the author's experience using a off-brand model of the Synchro-Energizer. Beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain waves are described. The article describes the lucid dreaming that is associated with the theta state, however, the point is made that insights are of no value unless they are written down. Several general ideas for enhancing your creative productivity are suggested: practice what you want to do well, become engaged (doing is more productive than studying), expand to other related areas, believe in your creative abilities, take more naps to enter theta more often, close your eyes and meditate.

Ferguson, M., "Retrospective: Unlocking the Mystery of Creativity," Mind/Brain Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 12 (September, 1990).

A review of some of the major findings regarding creativity in the last decade. These include: Nursing home patients with brain damage were judged to have equal aesthetic abilities to their non-brain-damaged counterparts. Emotionally disturbed children were judged more creative than their "normal" counterparts. Creative people tend to display right brain dominance. Injury to the frontal lobe hampers creativity. Scientists tend to show the same creative abilities as artists. Famous writers tended to suffer from mood disorders more than other professionals. Carl Rogers states that we are doomed to annihilation unless we improve our creative abilities.

Ferguson, M., "On Doing Creative Science: Researcher Offers Hints," Mind/Brain Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 12 (September, 1990).

A report describing the suggestions of ecologist Craig Loehle for promoting creativity in the sciences. These include: 1) following your gut feelings, 2) look at subjects that are being hotly debated, 3) choose experiments that are reasonably challenging, 4) diversify your interests, 5) don't read the literature until after writing down your ideas, 6) value inactivity, 7) be unrealistic in your goals, 8) procrastinate some projects, and 9) ride the wave when your hot. Loehle argues that pursuing grants is a problem because it takes up to 30% of a researchers time, and forces too narrow of a focus. He believes that research grants should be more broad in scope and cover longer periods of time.

Greeley, A., "Bricolage Among the Trash Cans," Society, Vol. 30, No. 2 (January-February, 1993) p. 70-75.

The author proposes a mechanism of creativity where some dimension of the self continuously scans the image traces of memory and "playfully juxtaposes, separates, combines, readjusts, changes, undoes, assembles and tears down" these images..." Creativity is compared to the creation of a story, where the images are interwoven into a coherent structure. The most creative individuals are those who can quickly "play with our [mental] data". The author believes that creativity is essentially an act of play. A kind of innate "storytelling impulse" is the driving force of creativity.

Leschak, P., "The Five-Step Creativity Workout," Writer's Digest, Vol. 70, No. 11 (November, 1991) p. 4-29.

The author describes five skills used to develop creative writing abilities. 1) begin with intense study and concentration, 2) clearly establish the form of the problem, 3) sequester yourself to an environment of solitude on a regular schedule, 4) be patient for the solution, and 5) have confidence in your abilities and be willing to take risks.

Marken, G.A., "Nurturing Creativity in a Productive Society," Public Relations Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Winter, 1991) p. 31-32.

The author discusses the problem where management wants creative efforts, but "real world" pressures produce a situation not conducive to creativity. He illustrates the differences between right and left-brain thinking, and describes how creative people thrive on ambiguity. The author's strongest point is that creativity doesn't happen on a time clock, and therefore, we must not use "harsh" measures of productivity to evaluate creative output.

Meyer, J., "Substitute Reinforcement: A Major Psychological Source of Creative Capacity," Education, Vol. 110, No. 3 (Spring, 1990) p. 369-373.

The author defines substitute reinforcement as the "process of continuing trial efforts in a stalled concept formation task..." These are the things that keep people working on a problem when they're stumped, or when progress is slow. The author proposes seven factors that need to be taken into account when developing a theory on creative performance: 1) how people approach unfamiliar realms, 2) the role of work and effort in learning, 3) difficulties in generalizing learning, 4) short-term memory blockages, 5) appropriate substitute reinforcement, 6) clarifying the value of the learning process, and 7) reluctance to document learning comprehension.

Renzulli, J., "A General Theory for the Development of Creative Productivity Through the Pursuit of Ideal Acts of Learning," Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Fall, 1992) p. 170-182.

The author presents a general theory for developing creativity by examining the interactions between the learner, curriculum, and teacher. Learner interactions consist of a student's abilities, interests, and learning styles. Teacher interactions include the teacher's knowledge, teaching technique, and "romance" with the discipline. The curriculum includes the structure, content, methodology, and the discipline's appeal to the imagination of the students. The author proposes a three-dimensional research paradigm for examining creative productivity: a) the type of creativity that we are trying to develop, b) the context in which the creative activities are carried out, c) the contextual variables that influence the creative process.

Runco, M., "Divergent Thinking, Creativity, and Giftedness," Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter, 1993), p. 16-22.

Divergent thinking tests are often used to estimate the potential for creative thought. This article reviews recent research. Findings include: a) ideation tests are not related to general intelligence scores, b) stringent and lenient divergent thinking tests involve different cognitive skills, c) creativity tests should include more "real-world" problems, because they provide better predictive ability of how a person will perform in the natural environment, d) creativity tests should include a qualitative examination of responses, as well as quantitative, e) creative potential is normally distributed in the population, f) the intrinsic motivation in a problem maximizes creativity.

Schack, G., "Effects of a Creative Problem-Solving Curriculum on Students of Varying Ability Levels," Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter, 1993), p. 32-38.

The author studied the effects of a creative problem solving curriculum on 267 middle school students. Gifted, honors, and average students were judged before and after the program. The testing procedure measured problem fluency, solution fluency, flexibility, and originality. All treatment students showed significant gains, regardless of their original ability. However, teacher's perceptions were that gifted students had significant gains, honors students had some gains, and average students had none. The author argues that the disparity between test results and the teachers perceptions suggests that teachers need training on how to recognize creative behaviors.

Schwartz, A. , "Using Brainstorming to Identify Creative Solutions," Supervisory Management, Vol. 36, No. 10 (October, 1991), p. 4.

The author identifies the features conducive to productive brainstorming sessions. Most important is the need to strike a balance between casual and productive settings. The optimal number of participants is between seven and fifteen. The physical environment should be relaxing and ideas should be informally recorded on a flip chart. When a page is filled, hang it on the wall for all participants to see. The ground rules are: 1) let ideas flow freely without judgments, 2) encourage freewheeling thought, 3) generate as many ideas as possible, and 4) build on the ideas of others. The author stresses the need for knowing the limitations of brainstorming.

Skagen, A., "Creative Tools: Versatile Problem Solvers that can Double as Fun and Games," Supervisory Management, Vol. 36, No. 10 (October, 1991), p. 1-2.

The author presents creativity games as a way for organizations to combat burnout. She maintains that nearly everyone has fun at these games because they resemble play. Creativity tools can be used after a clear statement and analysis of a problem. Most organizational creativity programs encourage a team approach to encourage camaraderie among coworkers. Techniques include brainstorming imaginary customer complaints, challenging customary ways of doing things, brainstorming barriers to success, visualizing the desired goal and working backwards, describing the company ten to fifty years from now, and imagining what the effect would be if there were no budget or technical restraints on the company.

Sternberg, R. and Lubart, T., "Creative Giftedness: A Multivariate Investment Approach," Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter, 1993), p. 7-15.

The authors believe that six resources contribute to the creativity of individuals: intelligence, knowledge, styles of thinking, personality, motivation, and environment. The authors propose an "investment" view of creativity, where creative people "buy low and sell high". They initially propose ideas that seem odd (or out of sync) with other peoples ideas. As they bring the ideas to fruition, they metaphorically "sell" the ideas to other people, and then move on to other ideas. The authors believe that creativity is a special kind of giftedness that is different than academic giftedness. Creativity is characterized by divergent thinking, selective encoding, selective combination and selective comparison skills. Knowledge is viewed as necessary, but sometimes it limits one's perspective and ability to have unique ideas. Tolerance of ambiguity is one of the most important personality attributes associated with creativity. Creative individuals also enjoy mild risk taking, and they show a willingness to overcome obstacles and persevere. Creative people are generally task (rather than goal) oriented. Creative environments are not universal. An individual who appears creative in one environment might appear average in another.

Sternberg, R. and Lubart, T., "Creating Creative Minds," Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 72, No. 8 (April, 1991), p. 608-614.

The authors elaborate on their investment theory of creativity. When making a creative investment, people should "buy low and sell high". Two aspects of intelligence are involved in creativity--problem definition and redefinition, and insight skills (discovering information relationships). Creativity also requires knowledge. In order for knowledge to contribute to creativity, it should be usable and relevant. Creative personalities demonstrate tolerance for ambiguity, a willingness to surmount obstacles, perseverance, a willingness to grow and take risks, and a belief in oneself. Intrinsic motivation (doing a task for enjoyment) and the desire to excel promote creativity. Environments should spark creative ideas and reward them. The current structure of schools seems to undermine creativity as much as it supports it. The authors also promote the idea that many of our current creativity programs are trivial and the learning only transfers to trivial situations. They call for a complete revaluation of the purpose of schooling,

Thomas, T., "Knowing When to Brainstorm Solo," Supervisory Management, Vol. 36, No. 10 (October, 1991), p. 5.

Participatory management often involves workers in brainstorming sessions. The author points out that involving other employees in a brainstorming session is not always the best solution. Do not use group techniques when: 1) the matter is strictly your responsibility, 2) the issue will divide people because of their own interests, 3) when the staff is not accustomed to brainstorming techniques, and 4) when there are not between six and twelve people. The author makes several suggestions for brainstorming alone, including: setting aside some time to "relax with the problem", not defining the problem "too clearly", and keeping an idea diary with you all the time.