What is Creativity?

A Brief Overview

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The numbers of books on creativity has more than tripled since 1950 according to Google Book Ngram. Creativity has been viewed as valuable for future economy and personal happiness. Pink (2006) pointed out that the society is demanding more creative capacity from an individual as it progresses to the Conceptual Age, where creators and empathizers are becoming value builders. Previous three ages included “Agriculture Age,” “Industrial Age,” and “Information Age.” Creativity was also associated with happiness when Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presented a talk about creative flow through the TED Talk

What do great people think of creativity?

Albert Einstein thought that “creativity is intelligence having fun;” Steve Jobs said that “creativity is connecting things;” Richard Branson regards creativity as the mindset and action to “always be connecting the dots (ABCD);” American poet Dorothy Parker said that “creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.”

How does research define creativity?

“Creativity” comes from the Latin word “creō,” which means “making” (Sternberg, 1988). Historically, creativity was viewed as a power from God. The Renaissance culture encouraged the view of creativity as a personal capacity. Modern researchers look at creativity from two perspectives: product and process. Gardner (1989) defined creativity as the ability to generate useful products and/or solutions. Koestler (1964) referred creativity to the cognitive process of connecting seemly unconnected references. (Please refer to another article “A Preliminary Research of Creativity” for more details)

What factors impact the levels of creativity?

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999) discovered that factors such as cognitive abilities, motivation, personalities, and environmental factors could impact the creative capacity. For instance, MacKinnon (1963) proposed that high motivation enables people to develop and express their potentials.

I believe that everyone was born creative, we just have been educated to become less creative. In the next few articles, I will explore topics such as “creative process,” “creativity and happiness,” “creativity and mindfulness”and “how to enhance creativity.” If you want to suggest some topics of creativity, please feel free to leave in the comment below.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Implications of system perspective for the study of creativity. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity (pp. 313–335). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Gardner, H. (1989). To open minds: Chinese clues to the dilemma of contemporary education. Basic Books.

Koestler, A. (1964). The act of creation.

MacKinnon, D. W. (1963). Creativity and images of the self. The study of lives, 251-278.

Pink, D. H. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. Penguin.

Sternberg, R. J. P. (Eds.). (1988). The nature of creativity: Contemporary psychological perspectives. CUP Archive.

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