What is the Psychology of Creativity?

A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology set out to explore the relationship between creativity and mental illness.

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Creativity is a quality that we all value in our lives. It is the ability to come up with new ideas, to see the world in new ways, and to solve problems in innovative ways. We all need creativity in order to thrive in our personal lives and in our careers.

But what exactly is creativity? And what are the psychological factors that contribute to it?

In this article, we will explore the psychology of creativity. We will look at what it is, how it works, and what factors contribute to it. We will also discuss some of the ways that you can foster your own creativity.

Theories of creativity

The psychodynamic approach

The psychodynamic approach to creativity was developed by Sigmund Freud and his followers. According to this approach, creative people are able to tap into their unconscious mind and access hidden memories and desires. This allows them to create something new and original.

People who are creative are often seen as rebellious or non-conformist. This is because they are not afraid to break the rules and explore new ideas. Creative people are also often highly sensitive and emotional. They may be more prone to anxiety and depression, but they also tend to be more optimistic and open-minded than other people.

The cognitive approach

The cognitive approach to creativity emphasizes the role of mental processes in creative behavior. This includes both the ability to generate new ideas (creative generation) and the ability to evaluate and select ideas (creative evaluation).

The cognitive approach has its roots in the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who emphasized the importance of “thinking aloud” in the creative process. Vygotsky believed that people use inner speech to think through problems and generate new ideas. This inner speech can take different forms, depending on the level of complexity of the task at hand. For simple tasks, we may use single words or brief phrases. For more complex tasks, we may use more complete sentences.

Current research on the cognitive approach to creativity is being conducted by a number of psychologists, including Robert Sternberg, Mark Runco, and Dean Keith Simonton. These researchers are interested in a variety of topics related to creative thinking, such as the relationship between intelligence and creativity, the process of idea generation, and the factors that contribute to creative productivity.

The socio-cultural approach

The socio-cultural approach to creativity emphasizes the role of social and cultural factors in the development and expression of creative ideas. According to this perspective, creativity is a product of one’s environment and interactions with others.

There are several key tenets of the socio-cultural approach to creativity. First, creativity is a system-level phenomenon. That is, it emerges from the interaction of many individuals within a culture or society. Second, creativity is socially distributed. That is, it does not reside within any one individual but is instead distributed across a group of people. Third, creativity is context-specific. That is, the same idea may be considered creative in one context but not in another.

fourth, creativity is a dialectical process. That is, it involves the tension between opposites (e.g., between individual and social needs). Fifth, creativity entails risk-taking. That is, individuals must be willing to experiment and take risks in order to generate new ideas. Sixth, creativity often results from collaboration. That is, two or more people working together can produce ideas that neither could have generated on their own. Finally, seventh, creativity often emerges in response to problems or challenges. That is, the need to find a solution to a problem can lead to the generation of new and creative ideas.”

The creative process

Creativity is often described as the ability to come up with new and unusual ideas. It is a process that involves the generation of new ideas or solutions. It is often said that creativity is the result of a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience.

The four-stage model of the creative process

The four-stage model of the creative process is a widely accepted approach to understanding the psychology of creativity. The model suggests that there are four stages of creative activity: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

Preparation is the stage in which we gather information and ideas, sharpening our vision of what we want to create. Incubation is the period of time during which we let those ideas percolate and gel, often without consciously thinking about them. Illumination is the moment of insight or inspiration, when the solution to a problem suddenly becomes clear. Verification is the final stage in which we refine and polish our idea, making sure it is ready to be shared with the world.

Though the stages are usually considered to be linear, it is important to note that they are often interconnected and may happen simultaneously. For example, incubation may lead to illumination, which in turn may lead to further incubation. The model is also not meant to be prescriptive; not everyone will experience all four stages in every creative endeavor. Rather, it is meant to be a helpful framework for understanding the psychology of creativity.

The five-stage model of the creative process

The five-stage model of the creative process is widely accepted in the field of psychology. It suggests that creativity goes through five distinct stages:

1. Pre-conceptualization: This is the stage where you come up with ideas and start to think about what you want to create.

2. Conceptualization: This is the stage where you start to develop your idea and turn it into a concept.

3. Planning: This is the stage where you start to plan how you will execute your concept.

4. Execution: This is the stage where you actually create or produce your work.

5. Evaluation: This is the stage where you evaluate your work and reflect on its success or failure.

The psychology of the creative personality

What makes a person creative? It is a question that has been asked throughout history, in different cultures and by different people. Some say that creativity is a gift, while others say it is a skill that can be learned.

The Big Five personality traits and creativity

The Big Five personality traits are often used to measure creativity. They include:
-Openness to experience: People who are open to new experiences are more likely to be creative. They’re curious and willing to try new things.
-Conscientiousness: People who are conscientious are often seen as being more reliable and hardworking. They’re less likely to take risks, which can impact their creativity.
-Extraversion: People who are extraverted are often seen as being more outgoing and sociable. They’re more likely to take risks, which can impact their creativity.
-Agreeableness: People who are agreeable are often seen as being more cooperative and good natured. They’re less likely to take risks, which can impact their creativity.
-Neuroticism: People who are neurotic are often seen as being more anxious and stressed. They’re more likely to take risks, which can impact their creativity.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and creativity

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a well-known personality test that assigns individuals to one of 16 different personality types. According to the MBTI manual, people who prefer intuition (N) and thinking (T) are more likely to pursue creative occupations than people who prefer sensing (S) and feeling (F). This finding is consistent with the view that creativity is associated with a more abstract, “big-picture” orientation.


In conclusion, the psychology of creativity is a fascinating area of study that can help us to understand how and why people are creative. There are many different factors that contribute to creativity, and it is important to remember that not everyone is creative in the same way. Some people are more creatively inclined than others, and some people are more likely to be creative under certain conditions than others. However, there are certain universal principles that seem to apply to all cases of creativity, and by understanding these principles we can learn how to encourage creativity in ourselves and in others.

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