Can You Increase Creativity

Listed below are the responses collected from the question, "Can creativity be enhanced? Why or why not?

  • Practice makes perfect The more you do it, the better it will be.
  • Yes. Pretty can become prettier.
  • Yes, creativity can be enhanced with proper inspiration or a stimulus that provokes or produces a creative process.
  • Yes; there is no limit to how creative or how boring you can be.
  • Yes, because one can practice "thinking outside the box" and do exercises to strengthen the right side of the brain. Practice makes perfect!
  • Creativity can be enhanced because there are no limitations on it.
  • No, creativity can not be enhanced because it is not a tangible quality that canbe defined. Creativity is different for every person; it cant be collectively measured.
  • Creativity cannot be enhanced by externalsources because its two conditions, self-confidence and drive, are virtues that can only be cultivated through persoal growth and choice.

Unfortunately, there is no magic creativity machine that will guarantee results in 30 day or less. A quote which beautifully summarizes the research on creativity enhancement is as follows…

"The research evidence unfortunately does not suggest that by using a prescribed scheme we can produce creativeness at will. What it suggests, rather, is that virtually everyone has more creativity than he makes use of, that different conditions flush it forth in different individuals, and that a given procedure tends to nurture a part, but not the whole, of one's creative capacity." - Rubin, 1968

That being said, there do seem to be specific variables which potentially affect the output of creativity.

1. Establishing Purpose and Intention- A person who has the desire to be more creative will be more likely to produce creative output. "The creative vision is more likely to be the result of a slow personal development on both cognitive and emotional levels. To achieve a novel point of view may necessitate years of continuing development which has nothing to do with divergent skills or fast information processing." (Nickerson, 408)

2. Building Basic Skills- Some level of education is required. Basic skills need to be understood before they can be thought about in new and novel ways.

3. Encouraging Acquisition of Domain-Specific Knowledge- Although knowledge in a particular area does not guarantee creative output, it does appear that creativity does not often occur without significant knowledge in the area. For example, it is very unlikely that someone who doesn't know anything about chemistry will come up with the cure for cancer. This is also true in the arts. Looking at Monet, he was taught to paint in the conventional way. Once he finished schooling and understood his craft, he and several other painters, began the impressionist movement. This new style of painting changed the way paint was applied to the canvas, changed the colors used, and also the subject matter. However, had Monet not learned the basics of painting, he would not have been able to create this new style. Csikszentmihalyi wrote "a person who wants to make a creative contribution not only must within a creative system, but must also reproduce that system within his or her own mind." (Nickerson, 409)

The danger is to get caught in conventional ways and be unable to think in an innovative way.

4.Stimulating and Rewarding Curiosity and Exploration- Play and ask questions. "The type of curiosity that evokes the expression of creativity is seen in a persistent reluctance to take things for granted, a deep desire for explanations, and skepticism of 'obvious' explanations." (Nickerson, 410) Never stop asking the question, "but why?" (even though parents would say otherwise). Children have an amazing curiosity for why things are the way they are- that same trait is seen in highly creative individuals.

5. Building Motivation- Internal motivation is an important key to solving the creativity puzzle. Many exceptionally creative individuals have remarked about being passionate about their work. It is important that the motivation be internal. Extrinsic motivation can decrease intrinsic motivation, especially in children. It only makes sense that one who wishes to be creative will be more creative than one who is persuaded to be.

6. Encouraging Confidence and a Willingness to Fight- Treat failures as an opportunity to learn and keep goals achievable. Timidity comes with failure and doubt. It is not conducive to creative thinking.

7. Focusing on Mastery and Self-Competition- "Evidence shows that people who take it as a goal to improve their performance, and hence compare their current performance with past performance, are likely to be more willing to accept challenging tasks and to persist if they experience failure than are people who set their sights on outperforming others and 'winning' in the conventional sense." (Nickerson, 413) An individual's biggest focus should be on completion and mastery.

8. Promoting Supportable Beliefs about Creativity- Students and individuals need to believe that they can improve creativity by working towards it. They need to believe that they have more potential than they have reached and that they can achieve it by working towards it. Thoughts can often become self-fulfilling prophecies, so negative thoughts can be truly detrimental. On the other hand, beliefs must be realistic.

9. Providing Opportunities for Choice and Discovery- Being able to come up with your own problems is key. For example, in school settings, children don't have input in the problems they work on. In order to truly develop creative potential, individuals must be able to problem find and problem solve. It is also important that individuals feel the gratification of discovery.

10. Developing Self-Management Skills- Individuals need to become "active manager[s] of one's cognitive resources. Discover individual strengths and weaknesses and play them up or down as needed. Where do you work best? Are you devoting adequate time to innovation?

11. Teaching Techniques and Strategies for Facilitating Creative Performance- There are many small tricks to help aid thinking; they include- "creating subgoals, working backwards, hill climbing, means- end analysis, forward chaining, considering analogous problems, specialization and generalization, and considering extreme cases." (Nickerson, 417) Each of these tools serve to help in problem solving.

12. Providing Balance- Although creative expression is important, there needs to be a balance. There needs to be structure to compensate for the free thinking, particularly in classroom settings.

13. Teaching by Example- "Fair mindedness, openness to evidence, a desire for clarity, respect for others' opinions, inquisitiveness, and reflectiveness are among the attitudinal qualities- habits of mind- that have been widely associated with good thinking and taken as goals of efforts to teach thinking." (Nickerson, 419)

Of all of the responses, "Yes, creativity can be enhanced with proper inspiration or a stimulus that provokes or produces a creative process" was the closest to the truth. As just described, motivation can increase creativity. On the other hand, some of the responses were too optimistic- practice does not make creative potential perfect. Also, it is pretty ambitious to believe that there is no limit to creative potential. The response that "creativity cannot be enhanced by external sources because its two conditions, self-confidence and drive, are virtues that can only be cultivated through personal growth and choice" is partially correct. Confidence and drive do affect an individual's potential for creative output, however their assumption was that those two things can not be altered. Although there is a limit to how much drive and confidence can be increased, there is evidence to support the possibility of change. This statement is confusing- "Creativity can be enhanced because there are no limitations on it." In order for something to be defined as creative, it must be novel and appropriate. Therefore, there are limitations on creativity. In a similar manner, "No, creativity can not be enhanced because it is not a tangible quality that can be defined. Creativity is different for every person; it cant be collectively measured" assumes that creativity can not be defined. This is an incorrect assumption. Although it is difficult to define, a definition does exist.

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