Creativity is the ability to generate novel, valuable ideas. People need a minimum level of intelligence to be creative, but not all people who get high scores on intelligence tests are creative.

Divergent vs. Convergent Thinking

Creativity is characterized by divergent thinking. In divergent thinking, people’s thoughts go off in different directions as they try to generate many different solutions to a problem. In convergent thinking, on the other hand, people narrow down a list of possibilities to arrive at a single right answer.

Example: Cindy would have to use divergent thinking if her professor asked her to think of a hundred different uses for a fork. She uses convergent thinking when she considers the list of possibilities on a multiple-choice question and picks the one correct answer.

Characteristics of Creative People

Researchers have identified several characteristics that creative people share:

  • Expertise: Creative people usually have considerable training, knowledge, and expertise in their field.
  • Nonconformity: Creative people tend to think independently and have relatively little concern for what others think of them.
  • Curiosity: Creative people tend to be open to new experiences and willing to explore unusual events.
  • Persistence: Creative people are usually willing to work hard to overcome obstacles and take risks.
  • Intrinsic motivation: Creative people tend to be motivated more by intrinsic rewards, such as a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction of curiosity, rather than by extrinsic rewards, such as money or social approval.

Environmental Influences on Creativity

People can best realize their creative potential if they are in circumstances that promote creativity. Families, organizations, and institutions promote creativity when they allow people to have control over problem solving and task completion, minimize judgment and evaluation of work, and encourage new ways of doing things.

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