The Domain of Creativity
In this chapter I will take stock of what I have learned about creativity in the past quarter century. I will describe how I started with an interest in the personality traits and cognitive processes of creative people, and how as time went on I became convinced that the epistemological grounds of such a quest were largely unsound. The more I tried to say that "creative people are such and such" or "creative people do this and that," the less sure I became about what creativity itself consisted of and how we could even begin to figure out what it was.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that in order to understand creativity one must enlarge the conception of what the process is, moving from an exclusive focus on the individual to a systemic perspective that includes the social and cultural context in which the "creative" person operates. Being trained as a psychologist, I came to this conclusion reluctantly; but now I am convinced that it is not possible to even think about creativity, let alone measure it, without taking into account the parameters of the cultural symbol system (or domain) in which the creative activity takes place, and the social roles and norms (or field) that regulate the given creative activity. But before exploring this expansion of the notion of creativity, I shall briefly describe the chain of studies that led up to it.