Improving the Creative Process: Analysis of the Effects of Divergent Thinking Techniques and Domain Specific Knowledge on Creativity

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Although creativity may be a subjective construct that we can not evaluate independently of the domain, we may be able to objectively measure a person's creative thinking processes. The difficulty is that current tests are unable to provide consistent evaluations of individual creative thinking abilities with strong external validity. It is contended that this may be due in part to the measurement constructs being a measure of cognitive processing strategy choice rather than inherent creative thinking abilities alone. Additionally, domain specific knowledge factors may influence creative thinking processes and measures. This article combines a review of the literature with the findings of qualitative research undertaken at two of the world's leading advertising agencies to identify whether creative thinking techniques, and domain specific knowledge when primed, are key factors influencing creative outcomes. Finally, it develops a creative thinking research instrument that incorporates the findings. Factor and regression analyses were undertaken on the quantitative data with 10 variables loading onto two factors and accounting for more than 60% of the variance explained. Further findings and implications are discussed in the article.

Keywords: Creativity; Thinking techniques; Domain specific knowledge.

I. INTRODUCTION

As we move into the current century there are few processes that are more important for us to understand than the creative process. Our creative ability sets us apart from the other creatures of this planet and holds the key to our continued success at the individual, organizational, and societal levels. Facing rapid change from multiple global sources of competition, organizations, and even entire economies, are realizing the need for innovation and adaptability. In order to nurture innovation we must have an understanding of the creative process.

Despite its importance the field of creative thinking is still relatively young and there are many issues of continued contention that are yet to be fully explored. The creative thinking process itself is still poorly understood and generates considerable debate. "One of the few points of agreement in the relevant literature is that creativity is multifaceted" (Runco & Charles, 1992, p.537). Arguably, the most important area that requires consensus in the creative thinking literature is the measurement of individual creative ability.

One of the biggest difficulties in the creative thinking literature is the lack of an instrument that can accurately measure, with any degree of external validity, what is commonly regarded to be a multifaceted construct. Given the need to understand both inherent and learnt associative abilities, the aims of this research were to: a) explore the contention that domain, inherent, and learned associative abilities are essential to creative thinking, b) to begin the complex process of developing a model of this process, and c) to develop a measure to test this model.

II. LITERATURE REVIEW

In developing a measure one must first define the concept to be measured and its various constructs. Historically there has been little understanding of the word creative or its importance. Since Guilford (1968) sparked renewed interest in the area there has been significant research aimed at providing more meaning to the word. While there is still no consensus in the definition of the term creativity, almost all definitions contain the concept of originality. As far back as the 1950's Bruner (1957), defined creativity as 'effective surprise', and, as stated by Runco and Charles (1992), "Of the various facets of creativity, originality is probably the most widely recognized" (Runco & Charles, 1992, p.537).

The originality view of creativity causes a problem, namely, any idea, no matter how bizarre and inappropriate to the situation, would be encompassed by the definition. …