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Learn More About Creativity

Now you have already learned the definition of creativity and defined your own idea of it. The definition of creativity goes back to 1930. The article introduces the development of definitions of creativity, providing further knowledge about it.

The field of creativity studies can be dated back to 1930, or 1940, or the 1950s; however, originality was the subject discussed more than creativity. The literature concludes that creativity requires both originality and effectiveness.

Despite the fact that the original definition of creativity began long ago, many discussions of ways to define its look to articles by Stein (1953) and Barron (1955).

Let’s start with a definition. ‘A creative work is a novel work that is accepted as tenable or useful or satisfying by a group at some point in time . . . By “novel’’ I mean that the creative product did not exist previously in precisely the same form . . . The extent to which a work is a novel depends on the extent to which it deviates from the traditional or the status quo. This may well depend on the nature of the problem that is attacked, the fund of knowledge or experience that exists in the field at the time, and the characteristics of the creative individual and those of the individuals with whom he [or she] is communicating. Often, in studying creativity, we tend to restrict ourselves to a study of the genius because the “distance” between what he [or she] has done and what has existed is quite marked . . .
In speaking of creativity, therefore, it is necessary to distinguish between internal and external frames of reference. (Stein, 1953, pp. 311–312).

Stein indicates that:
a. Creative work tends to be useful for some group, so social judgment is involved
b. a creative insight arises from a reintegration of existing materials or knowledge, but when it is completed it contains new elements
c. and it is important to separate personal from historical creativity

The first criterion of an original response is that it should have a certain stated uncommonness in the particular group being studied. A familiar example of this in psychological practice is the definition of an original response to the Rorschach inkblots, the requirement there being that the response should, in the examiner’s experience, occur no more often than once in 100 examinations.

The second criterion that must be met if a response is to be called original, it must be to some extent adaptive to reality. The intent of this requirement is to exclude uncommon responses which are merely random, or which proceed from ignorance or delusion. (Barron, 1955, pp. 478–479)

In this article, Barron defined two criteria, which are uncommonness and adaptiveness to reality. These standard definitions of creativity speak of the two criteria that creativity should possess; however, they or they alone, may not always apply. For example, Simonton suggests that a third criterion, surprise, should be considered; while Runco argues that parsimony is the only criterion by which to judge.

After reading this article, we want to know your opinion. Please share your responses with your fellow students in the comments!


Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity research: Past, present and future. American Psychologist, 5, 444–454.

Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The standard definition of creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 92-96.

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Using Creative Problem Solving

National Chiao Tung University