A Larmarckian Model of Creativity
Robert J. Sternberg Department of Psychology Yale University Box 208205 New Haven, CT 06520
People talk about creativity; they care about creativity. But what is creativity? Creativity is the ability to produce work that is both novel (i.e., original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e., useful, meets task constraints) ( Lubart, 1994; Ochse, 1990; Sternberg, 1988a; Sternberg & Lubart 1991, 1995). Creativity is a topic of wide scope that is important at both the individual and societal levels for a wide range of task domains. At an individual level, creativity is relevant, for example, when solving problems on the job and in daily life. At a societal level, creativity can lead to new scientific findings, new movements in art, new inventions, and new social programs. The economic importance of creativity is clear because new products or services create jobs. Furthermore, individuals, organizations, and societies must adapt existing resources to changing task demands to remain competitive.
As the first half of the twentieth century gave way to the second half, Guilford ( 1950), in his APA Presidential Address, challenged psychologists to pay attention to what he found to be a neglected but extremely important attribute, namely, creativity. Guilford reported that less than two- tenths of one percent of the entries in Psychological Abstracts up to 1950 focused on creativity.
Interest in creativity research began to grow somewhat in the 1950s and a few research institutes concerned with creativity were founded. Today, there is widespread and dynamic interest in creativity, and it is this current interest that motivates this essay.
In this essay, I will briefly review seven approaches to understanding creativity--mystical, pragmatic, psychoanalytic, psychometric, cognitive, social-personality, and confluence. I will then review in more detail an eighth, biological-evolutionary approach. This approach can actually be viewed as consisting of two subapproaches--Darwinian and Lamarckian. Of course, these approaches do not exhaustively cover all possible approaches to creativity, nor is it possible in a chapter even to do full justice to the eight approaches considered. But I believe that the survey of the eight approaches covers some of the major highlights. I will argue that our own approach, the investment theory of creativity--a confluence model--is Lamarckian. Creativity can be Darwinian as well--but typically only when applied to natural evolution.
The study of creativity has always been tinged--some might say tainted--with associations to mystical beliefs. Perhaps the earliest accounts of creativity were based on divine intervention. The