CONFORMITY AND CREATIVE THINKING
RICHARD S. CRUTCHFIELD University of California, Berkeley
In his essay "Self-Reliance," Emerson ( 1841) comments on the antipathy of conformity and creativity. "The virtue in most regard," he writes, "is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators. . . ."
Two key words in this passage offer a clue to the inherent opposition of conformity and creative thinking. One word is "self-reliance." Conformity, involving loss of self-reliance, undermines the person's creative powers by weakening his trust in the essential validity of his own processes of thought and imagination.
The other word is "realities." Conformity inhibits the person's ability to sense and grasp basic reality, and the loss of this contact with reality is fatal to creative thinking. In short, conformity tends to destroy creativity by alienating the creator both