An apple placed on 3 books
4P model of creativity

Explaining the 4Ps model

Rhodes expresses his model by first defining his own creativity. He thinks creativity contains product, process, person, and press.

The model may perhaps best be expressed by defining the present author’s creativity: it seems to include product, process, person, and press.

The word creativity is a noun naming the phenomenon in which a person communicates a new concept (the product). Mental activity (or a mental process) is implicit in the definition, and of course no one could conceive of a person living or operating in a vacuum, so the term ‘press’ is also implicit. The definition raises the question of how new the concept must be and asks to whom it must be new.

Rhodes’s notion of creativity comes from his research on creativity, in which he collected forty definitions of creativity and sixteen of imagination, but soon discovered that these definitions overlapped and intertwined with each other. Having categorized the definitions, he came up with a 4Ps model of creativity in 4 parts: person, process, press and products.

Person covers information about personality, intellect, temperament, physique, traits, habits, attitudes, self-concept, value systems, defense mechanisms, and behavior.

In the section on person, the author gives his definition of person and throws out a question to follow. He argues that people with higher intelligence show a higher talent for creativity, and examines whether creativity is somehow a potential. He then studies some research about the topic and concludes that a creative person is sensitive to problems, has mental flexibility, thinks divergently, is able to redefine existing objects and concepts, and has a complex temperament.

Process applies to motivation, perception, learning, thinking, and communicating.

In the section on process, the author takes research by Graham Wallas and Alex Osborn and infers that the creative thinking process has 4 stages: preparation, incubation, inspiration, and verification; and that the creative process can be taught.

Press refers to the relationship between human beings and their environment.

In the section on press, the author states that everyone perceives the environment surrounding him in a unique way and this ultimately reflects on the way in which he forms ideas and behavior. In other words, creative production is the result when someone demonstrates what his upbringing has imposed on him.

Product is what is created when an idea becomes embodied in tangible form. In the section on product, the author indicates that if a product were examined and traced back to the moment of inspiration, it might be possible to trace the thoughts and events leading to the idea. However, objective investigation into the creative process can take only one direction, namely, from product to person, to process and then to press. With the 4Ps of creativity, the author is sure that the vague concept of creativity will be more clearly understood and defined in future.

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


Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity. The Phi Delta Kappan, 42(7), 305-310.

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This article is from the free online course:

Using Creative Problem Solving

National Chiao Tung University