The Creators' Patterns
In the human sciences, a useful distinction has often been drawn between idiographic and nomothetic research ( Allport 1961). In idiographic work, the focus falls sharply on the individual case study, with its peculiar emphases and wrinkles. In nomothetic work, the focus falls instead on a search for general laws; such work, by its very nature, overlooks individual idiosyncracies, searching instead for those patterns which appear to apply to all, or to the vast majority of cases.
One can readily find this distinction echoed in research in the human sciences that has been centered on creative individuals, works, and processes. Since, as it is usually construed, "the creative" is an unusual occurrence, there have been several efforts to study a creative entity in great depth. In recent times, this work has been epitomized by Gruber's important studies of Charles Darwin and Jean Piaget ( Gruber 1981; Gruber and Davis 1988). Befitting the fact that such case studies have been done in a social- scientific rather than humanistic spirit, there have been efforts to tease out more general principles at work ( Langley et al. 1986; Perkins 1981; Wallace and Gruber 1990). In contrast to this idiographically tinged work, there have been frank efforts to go beyond the individual, to examine the processes at work in large numbers of creative individuals, texts, or processes. This line of study has been pursued most rigorously and vigorously by Dean KeithSimonton