SUSS PSY 355 CREATIVE PSYCH SU 1c Nature and nurture of creativity…
SUSS PSY 355 CREATIVE PSYCH SU 1c Nature and nurture of creativity
Genius view of creativity
According to the genius view of creativity,
eminent creators are blessed with a special gift or talent
genius view of creativity
has led many people to believe that creativity is
more Nature than Nurture
, and are exclusive to a select few because
they are born with a
good set of genes
Proponents of the genius view of creativity - Nature appraoch
Francis Galton is the first major proponent of this view. He wrote Hereditary Genius to
argue that creators are born
, not made.
Galton (1869) examined the family pedigrees of eminent creators.
He found that
creative geniuses were likely to come from family lines that contained other famous creators.
Lewis Terman is another proponent of the genius view of creativity. Terman believed that
children who displayed high IQ would grow up to become geniuses.
To test this thesis, Terman (1925) looked for 1500 elementary school children who possessed a high IQ and followed these clever children until they became adults.
In his study, Terman demonstrated how his
precocious children came from homes with intellectually-able parents
and grew up to become sucessful.
Cox (1926) pioneered in historiometry and applied this technique to the lives of 301 famous creators and leaders of the past.
Cox discovered that the average IQ of these eminent creators was around four standard deviations above the population mean
This finding –
IQ is associated with eminent creativity
– is consistent with the results of Terman in his research on precocious children.
Opponents of the genius view of creativity- nurture appraoch
Other scholars oppose the genius view of creativity,
If genius is born rather than made, then uncreative members of the human race are biologically inferior and should be treated as such (i.e. by nature, they are weaker). On the other hand, creative members should be given special incentives by society to reproduce themselves so as to improve the human race.
Candolle (1873) presented data showing that the phenomenon of
genius was shaped by the economic, political, cultural and social factors.
Kroeber offered a sociocultural explanation of genius.
It asserted that creativity was a societal-level rather than an individual-level phenomenon. (i.e.
only societies and cultures exhibit creativity, not individuals
Kroeber devised two lines of argument to support this
the multiple discoveries in science.
the cultural configuration of genius.
Multiple discoveries in science
The proposition where
two or more individuals
who work in complete
from each other, formulate a
or create a new device.
For example, Leibniz and Newton invented calculus independently (and they had a big fight over who was the first to make this discovery).
Kroeber's Sociocultural explanation
To account for these multiple discoveries in science, Kroeber (1917) offered a sociocultural explanation.
Specifically, in any given culture, the store of
knowledge will accumulate
as the attention of its members is focused on a pressing problem
due to emerging social needs
reaches critical mass
. Consequently, when the time is right certain discoveries or
findings become inevitable
This is captured in the saying
“necessity is the mother of invention”.
Those who seize upon the idea deserve no credit for it. Instead, so-called creative geniuses are nothing more than
conduits for the Zeitgeist.
Mendel's Gene study example
To support his argument, Kroeber made the following observation.
had written a
paper on genes in 1865
, but it did not gain any significant attention.
35 years later, when scientists came to terms with Darwin’s theory of evolution, knowledge on genes and hereditary began to amass until eventually, Mendel’s obscure paper on genes (which explained how traits were passed on from parent to child)
was discovered by three independent scientists.
, DeVries, Correns and Tschermak, working independently by themselves and within a few months of each other, came across this paper
cultural configuration of genius -
Kroeber (1944) also offered another sociocultural explanation of genius, based on the idea that
creative geniuses tend to cluster into cultural configurations.
(I.e. There are more eminent creators often during periods of golden ages as compared to periods of dark ages).
If biological determinants like Galton were correct, then the number of creative geniuses should be consistent throughout history and should not be affected by such cultural configurations (i.e. golden age/ dark ages).
social learning process can account for the cultural fluctuation in genius over time.
of eminent creators
provides role models and mentors for the next generation
This phenomenon takes place as the
maturation of genius in one generation
happens at the
same time as the development of genius in the next generation
For instance, the youthful Beethoven was reputed to have met the mature Mozart
Refuting Galton -
Kroeber (1944) refuted Galton using Galton’s methodology. Kroeber developed a
list of eminent creators
who had lived in the past.
But whereas Galton had used family lineages to organise these geniuses, Kroeber
categorised them into cultural configurations of Golden Ages versus Dark Ages
In this way, Kroeber demonstrated that geniuses are made rather than born, instead of the other way round as Galton had argued.
creators are made or born
The most sensible approach to take in this debate between the biological and cultural determinists is to
adopt the middle position
both Nature (genes) and Nurture (environment) contribute
to the development of creative genius. In short, creators are born and made at the same time.
Genetic & environmental influences on creativity
Genetic influence on creativity
A genetic model of creativity
Feist (2010) has proposed a model of creativity which looks at how genes affect creativity. It takes into account the recent findings in the neuroscience of creativity.
That is, everything starts with
between individuals which
the formation of their
basic temperament and brain structure.
These differences in temperament and brain then lead to individual
variation in personality
In turn, possession of certain traits
facilitates creative behaviour
for example, an open and extroverted person is more inclined to come up with wild ideas and defend them.
1. Genetic influence on personality is polygenic
no simple and direct pathway from genetics to creativity via personality.
This is because genetic influence on personality is polygenic, (i.e.
hundreds of genes are often involved in shaping a certain trait
Hence there is no such thing as an “extroversion” gene, but there are many genes that are involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters that affect extroversion.
2. Brain structure and creative performance
An important discovery is the key role of the
frontal lobes and right hemisphere
in creative thought and problem-solving
highly creative individuals showed
of the prefrontal cortex, while less creative participants showed unilateral (left side) activation of the same area.
Feist (2010) argued that the
highly creative brain are more complex and more highly interconnected
3. Clusters of personality
Feist identified four clusters of personality traits associated with creativity.
of personality (e.g extroversion) deal with one’s
relationships with other people
, such as being assertive and championing a radical idea in the group.
of personality (e.g., psychoticism) are associated with
, but at the same time they are
also associated with creativity
of personality (e.g., openness to experience) deal with one’s habitual
style of processing information
, such as solving problems in a heuristic way.
of personality (e.g., perseverance) deal with one’s
desire to persist
in activities, such as overcoming obstacles during the creative process
Environmental influences on creativity
Role of family
Creative people grow up in a
supportive and stimulating family environment
which places a high value on learning and education and provide ample
opportunities for intellectual enrichment
Adversity in the formative years
Simonton (1999) argued that
in the formative years helps the budding creator to develop a
hardened character and emotional resilience
which serves him well in adulthood when he confronts the challenges of creative work.
In his view, an ideal supportive intellectually
stimulating environment is insufficient
Role of education
There are different types of education (formal, self-learning, guided)
Each may have diffrent bearings on creators
Concerning formal education, the empirical
evidence is indefinite.
Some creators succeed in formal education and become accomplished creators while others hated school and become accomplished creators
– in the form of self-learning or guided learning – is pursued by outstanding creators is more
With regards to guided learning, Zuckerman (1977) has established the
crucial role of the mentorship
through her interview with a group of American Nobel Prize winners between 1901 and 1972
The Nobel laureates indicated that their mentors had served as their role models in science.
Occupying a marginal niche in society
Research has shown that occupying a marginal niche in society spurs one to become more
An example is an ethnic marginality in which the person lives as an immigrant in
a foreign land
He would be forced by his circumstances to live in two
cultural groups. As a result of the individual
can evoke multiple sources of cultural information
and mental framework as opposed to a single unilateral perspective when addressing a problem
In this case, the
who makes an outstanding contribution in a certain domain of knowledge does not hail from the direct field of study. Instead, he hails
a neighbouring or
completely different field of study
I.e. Freud who wanted to be a medical doctor, became the founder of psychoanalytic
Why it promotes creativity
One reason is that the
combination of different domains
promotes the cross-fertilisation of ideas
and results in creative insight to a vexing problem.
Helps give an alternate perspective.
Personality traits refer to dimensions of individual differences in
tendencies to show consistent patterns
of thoughts, feelings and actions.
According to the Big-5 model of personality, there are five basic personality traits:
openness to experience.
Personality and creativity
Research has shown that creators possess certain traits (i.e. higher levels of openess)
two things to note
Interactions between person and situation
is not caused by personality. Instead, it is
due to the interaction between person and situation
. This means that under certain circumstances, someone with a creative personality may not behave in a creative way.
For example, when an employee with an open personality performs a rigid task at work and also receives negative feedback from superiors, he fails to engage in creative behaviour
Difference in behaviours
not all creators behave in the same way
For example, artists tend to be more anxious, impulsive and less socially responsible compared to scientists. By contrast, scientists tend to be more conscientious and orderly in comparison with artists.