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Creativity is a mental and social process involving the discovery of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness (based on its etymology) is that it is simply the act of making something new.

From a scientific point of view, the products of creative thought (sometimes referred to as divergent thought) are usually considered to have both originality and appropriateness.

Although intuitively a simple phenomenon, it is in fact quite complex. It has been studied from the perspectives of behavioural psychology, social psychology, psychometrics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, philosophy, aesthetics, history, economics, design research, business, and management, among others. The studies have covered everyday creativity, exceptional creativity and even artificial creativity. Unlike many phenomena in science, there is no single, authoritative perspective or definition of creativity. And unlike many phenomena in psychology, there is no standardized measurement technique.

Creativity has been attributed variously to divine intervention, cognitive processes, the social environment, personality traits, and chance ("accident", "serendipity"). It has been associated with genius, mental illness, humour and REM sleep.[1] Some say it is a trait we are born with; others say it can be taught with the application of simple techniques. Creativity has also been viewed as a beneficence of a muse or Muses.

Although popularly associated with art and literature, it is also an essential part of innovation and invention and is important in professions such as business, economics, architecture, industrial design, graphic design, advertising, mathematics, music, science and engineering, and teaching.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the ambiguity and multi-dimensional nature of creativity, entire industries have been spawned from the pursuit of creative ideas and the development of creativity techniques.

Leonardo da Vinci is well known for his creative works.

Creativity has been associated with right or forehead brain activity or even specifically with lateral thinking.

Some students of creativity have emphasized an element of chance in the creative process. Linus Pauling, asked at a public lecture how one creates scientific theories, replied that one must endeavor to come up with many ideas — then discard the useless ones.

Another adequate definition of creativity, according to Otto Rank, is that it is an "assumptions-breaking process." Creative ideas are often generated when one discards preconceived assumptions and attempts a new approach or method that might seem to others unthinkable.


Distinguishing between creativity and innovation

It is often useful to explicitly distinguish between creativity and innovation.

Creativity is typically used to refer to the act of producing new ideas, approaches or actions, while innovation is the process of both generating and applying such creative ideas in some specific context.

In the context of an organization, therefore, the term innovation is often used to refer to the entire process by which an organization generates creative new ideas and converts them into novel, useful and viable commercial products, services, and business practices, while the term creativity is reserved to apply specifically to the generation of novel ideas by individuals or groups, as a necessary step within the innovation process.

For example, Amabile and shermaine montefalco et al. (1996) suggest that while innovation "begins with creative ideas,"

"...creativity by individuals and teams is a starting point for innovation; the first is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the second." [2]

Although the two words are novel, they go hand in hand. In order to be innovative, employees have to be creative to stay competitive.

History of the term and the concept

The ways in which societies have perceived the concept of creativity have changed throughout history, as has the term itself. The ancient Greek concept of art (in Greek, "techne"—the root of "technique" and "technology"), with the exception of poetry, involved not freedom of action but subjection to rules. In Rome, this Greek concept was partly shaken, and visual artists were viewed as sharing, with poets, imagination and inspiration.[3]

Although neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a word that directly corresponded to the word "creativity," their art, architecture, music, inventions and discoveries provide numerous examples of what today would be described as creative works. The Greek scientist of Syracuse, Archimedes experienced the creative moment in his Eureka experience, finding the answer to a problem he had been wrestling with for a long time. At the time, the concept of "genius" probably came closest to describing the creative talents that brought forth such works.[4]

A fundamental change came in the Christian period: "creatio" came to designate God's act of "creation from nothing". "Creatio" thus took on a different meaning than "facere" ("to make") and ceased to apply to human functions. The ancient view that art is not a domain of creativity persisted in this period.[5]

A shift occurred in modern times. Renaissance men had a sense of their own independence, freedom and creativity, and sought to give voice to this sense. The first to actually apply the word "creativity" was the Polish poet Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, who applied it exclusively to poetry. For over a century and a half, the idea of human creativity met with resistance, due to the fact that the term "creation" was reserved for creation "from nothing." Baltasar Gracián (1601–58) would only venture to write: "Art is the completion of nature, as if it were a second Creator..."[6]

By the 18th century and the Age of Enlightenment, the concept of creativity was appearing more often in art theory, and was linked with the concept of imagination.[5]

The Western view of creativity can be contrasted with the Eastern view. For Hindus, Confucianists, Taoists and Buddhists, creation was at most a kind of discovery or mimicry, and the idea of creation "from nothing" had no place in these philosophies and religions.[4]

In the West, by the 19th century, not only had art come to be regarded as creativity, but it alone was so regarded. When later, at the turn of the 20th century, there began to be discussion of creativity in the sciences (e.g., Jan Łukasiewicz, 1878–1956) and in nature (e.g., Henri Bergson), this was generally taken as the transference, to the sciences, of concepts that were proper to art.[5]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, leading mathematicians and scientists such as Hermann von Helmholtz (1896) and Henri Poincaré (1908) began to reflect on and publicly discuss their creative processes, and these insights were built on in early accounts of the creative process by pioneering theorists such as Graham Wallas (1926) and Max Wertheimer (1945).

However, the formal starting point for the scientific study of creativity, from the standpoint of orthodox psychological literature, is generally considered to have been J. P. Guilford's 1950 address to the American Psychological Association, which helped popularize the topic[7] and focus attention on a scientific approach to conceptualizing creativity and measuring it psychometrically.

In parallel with these developments, other investigators have taken a more pragmatic approach, teaching practical creativity techniques. Three of the best-known are:

Creativity in psychology and cognitive science

The study of the mental representations and processes underlying creative thought belongs to the domains of psychology and cognitive science.

A psychodynamic approach to understanding creativity was proposed by Sigmund Freud, who suggested that creativity arises as a result of frustrated desires for fame, fortune, and love, with the energy that was previously tied up in frustration and emotional tension in the neurosis being sublimated into creative activity. Freud later retracted this view.

Graham Wallas

Graham Wallas, in his work Art of Thought, published in 1926, presented one of the first models of the creative process. In the Wallas stage model, creative insights and illuminations may be explained by a process consisting of 5 stages:

(i) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual's mind on the problem and explores the problem's dimensions),
(ii) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),
(iii) intimation (the creative person gets a 'feeling' that a solution is on its way),
(iv) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness); and
(v) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).

In numerous publications, Wallas' model is just treated as four stages, with "intimation" seen as a sub-stage. There has been some empirical research looking at whether, as the concept of "incubation" in Wallas' model implies, a period of interruption or rest from a problem may aid creative problem-solving. Ward[8] lists various hypotheses that have been advanced to explain why incubation may aid creative problem-solving, and notes how some empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that incubation aids creative problem-solving in that it enables "forgetting" of misleading clues. Absence of incubation may lead the problem solver to become fixated  on inappropriate strategies of solving the problem.[9] This work disputes the earlier hypothesis that creative solutions to problems arise mysteriously from the unconscious mind while the conscious mind is occupied on other tasks.[10]

Wallas considered creativity to be a legacy of the evolutionary process, which allowed humans to quickly adapt to rapidly changing environments. Simonton[11] provides an updated perspective on this view in his book, Origins of genius: Darwinian perspectives on creativity.

J.P. Guilford

Guilford[12] performed important work in the field of creativity, drawing a distinction between convergent and divergent production (commonly renamed convergent and divergent thinking). Convergent thinking involves aiming for a single, correct solution to a problem, whereas divergent thinking involves creative generation of multiple answers to a set problem. Divergent thinking is sometimes used as a synonym for creativity in psychology literature. Other researchers have occasionally used the terms flexible thinking or fluid intelligence, which are roughly similar to (but not synonymous with) creativity.

Arthur Koestler

In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler[13] lists three types of creative individual - the Artist, the Sage and the Jester.

Believers in this trinity hold all three elements necessary in business and can identify them all in "truly creative" companies as well. Koestler introduced the concept of bisociation - that creativity arises as a result of the intersection of two quite different frames of reference.

Geneplore model

In 1992, Finke et al. proposed the 'Geneplore' model, in which creativity takes place in two phases: a generative phase, where an individual constructs mental representations called preinventive structures, and an exploratory phase where those structures are used to come up with creative ideas. Weisberg[14] argued, by contrast, that creativity only involves ordinary cognitive processes yielding extraordinary results.

Conceptual blending

In the 90s, various approaches in cognitive science that dealt with metaphor, analogy and structure mapping have been converging, and a new integrative approach to the study of creativity in science, art and humor has emerged under the label conceptual blending.

"Creativity is the ability to illustrate what is outside the box from within the box." -The Ride

Psychological examples from science and mathematics

Jacques Hadamard

Jacques Hadamard, in his book Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, uses introspection to describe mathematical thought processes. In contrast to authors who identify language and cognition, he describes his own mathematical thinking as largely wordless, often accompanied by mental images that represent the entire solution to a problem. He surveyed 100 of the leading physicists of his day (ca. 1900), asking them how they did their work. Many of the responses mirrored his own.

Hadamard described the experiences of the mathematicians/theoretical physicists Carl Friedrich Gauss, Hermann von Helmholtz, Henri Poincaré and others as viewing entire solutions with “sudden spontaneity.”[15]

The same has been reported in literature by many others, such as Denis Brian,[16] G. H. Hardy[17] Walter Heitler,[18] B. L. van der Waerden,[19] and Harold Ruegg.[20]

To elaborate on one example, Einstein, after years of fruitless calculations, suddenly had the solution to the general theory of relativity revealed in a dream “like a giant die making an indelible impress, a huge map of the universe outlined itself in one clear vision.”[16]

Hadamard described the process as having steps (i) preparation, (ii) incubation, (iv) illumination, and (v) verification of the five-step Graham Wallas creative-process model, leaving out (iii) intimation, with the first three cited by Hadamard as also having been put forth by Helmholtz:[21]

Marie-Louise von Franz

Marie-Louise von Franz, a colleague of the eminent psychiatrist Carl Jung, noted that in these unconscious scientific discoveries the “always recurring and important factor ... is the simultaneity with which the complete solution is intuitively perceived and which can be checked later by discursive reasoning.” She attributes the solution presented “as an archetypal pattern or image.”[22] As cited by von Franz,[23] according to Jung, “Archetypes ... manifest themselves only through their ability to organize images and ideas, and this is always an unconscious process which cannot be detected until afterwards.”[24]

Creativity and affect

Some theories suggest that creativity may be particularly susceptible to affective influence.

Creativity and positive affect relations

According to Isen, positive affect has three primary effects on cognitive activity:

  1. Positive affect makes additional cognitive material available for processing, increasing the number of cognitive elements available for association;
  2. Positive affect leads to defocused attention and a more complex cognitive context, increasing the breadth of those elements that are treated as relevant to the problem;
  3. Positive affect increases cognitive flexibility, increasing the probability that diverse cognitive elements will in fact become associated. Together, these processes lead positive affect to have a positive influence on creativity.

Fredrickson in her Broaden and Build Model suggests that positive emotions such as joy and love broaden a person’s available repertoire of cognitions and actions, thus enhancing creativity.

According to these researchers, positive emotions increase the number of cognitive elements available for association (attention scope) and the number of elements that are relevant to the problem (cognitive scope).

Creativity and negative affect relations

On the other hand, some theorists have suggested that negative affect leads to greater creativity. A cornerstone of this perspective is empirical evidence of a relationship between affective illness and creativity. In a study of 1,005 prominent 20th century individuals from over 45 different professions, the University of Kentucky’s Arnold Ludwig found a slight but significant correlation between depression and level of creative achievement. In addition, several systematic studies of highly creative individuals and their relatives have uncovered a higher incidence of affective disorders (primarily bipolar illness and depression) than that found in the general population.

Creativity and affect at work

Three patterns may exist between affect and creativity at work: positive (or negative) mood, or change in mood, predictably precedes creativity; creativity predictably precedes mood; and whether affect and creativity occur simultaneously.

It was found that not only might affect precede creativity, but creative outcomes might provoke affect as well. At its simplest level, the experience of creativity is itself a work event, and like other events in the organizational context, it could evoke emotion. Qualitative research and anecdotal accounts of creative achievement in the arts and sciences suggest that creative insight is often followed by feelings of elation. For example, Albert Einstein called his 1907 general theory of relativity “the happiest thought of my life.” Empirical evidence on this matter is still very tentative.

In contrast to the possible incubation effects of affective state on subsequent creativity, the affective consequences of creativity are likely to be more direct and immediate. In general, affective events provoke immediate and relatively-fleeting emotional reactions. Thus, if creative performance at work is an affective event for the individual doing the creative work, such an effect would likely be evident only in same-day data.

Another longitudinal research found several insights regarding the relations between creativity and emotion at work. First - a positive relationship between positive affect and creativity, and no evidence of a negative relationship. The more positive a person’s affect on a given day, the more creative thinking they evidenced that day and the next day – even controlling for that next day’s mood. There was even some evidence of an effect two days later

In addition, the researchers found no evidence that people were more creative when they experienced both positive and negative affect on the same day. The weight of evidence supports a purely linear form of the affect-creativity relationship, at least over the range of affect and creativity covered in our study: the more positive a person’s affect, the higher their creativity in a work setting.

Finally, they found four patterns of affect and creativity affect can operate as an antecedent to creativity; as a direct consequence of creativity; as an indirect consequence of creativity; and affect can occur simultaneously with creative activity. Thus, it appears that people’s feelings and creative cognitions are interwoven in several distinct ways within the complex fabric of their daily work lives.

Creativity and intelligence

Cerebral Cortex
The frontal lobe (shown in blue) is thought to play an important role in creativity

There has been debate in the psychological literature about whether intelligence and creativity are part of the same process (the conjoint hypothesis) or represent distinct mental processes (the disjoint hypothesis). Evidence from attempts to look at correlations between intelligence and creativity from the 1950s onwards, by authors such as Barron, Guilford or Wallach and Kogan, regularly suggested that correlations between these concepts were low enough to justify treating them as distinct concepts.

Some researchers believe that creativity is the outcome of the same cognitive processes as intelligence, and is only judged as creativity in terms of its consequences, i.e. when the outcome of cognitive processes happens to produce something novel, a view which Perkins has termed the "nothing special" hypothesis.[25]

A very popular model is what has come to be known as "the threshold hypothesis", proposed by Ellis Paul Torrance, which holds that a high degree of intelligence appears to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for high creativity.[12] This means that, in a general sample, there will be a positive correlation between creativity and intelligence, but this correlation will not be found if only a sample of the most highly intelligent people are assessed. Research into the threshold hypothesis, however, has produced mixed results ranging from enthusiastic support to refutation and rejection.[26]

An alternative perspective, Renzulli's three-rings hypothesis, sees giftedness as based on both intelligence and creativity. More on both the threshold hypothesis and Renzulli's work can be found in O'Hara and Sternberg.[25]

Neurobiology of creativity

The neurobiology of creativity has been addressed[27] in the article "Creative Innovation: Possible Brain Mechanisms." The authors write that "creative innovation might require coactivation and communication between regions of the brain that ordinarily are not strongly connected". Highly creative people who excel at creative innovation tend to differ from others in three ways:

Thus, the frontal lobe appears to be the part of the cortex that is most important for creativity.

This article also explored the links between creativity and sleep, mood and addiction disorders, and depression.

In 2005, Alice Flaherty presented a three-factor model of the creative drive. Drawing from evidence in brain imaging, drug studies and lesion analysis, she described the creative drive as resulting from an interaction of the frontal lobes, the temporal lobes, and dopamine from the limbic system. The frontal lobes can be seen as responsible for idea generation, and the temporal lobes for idea editing and evaluation. Abnormalities in the frontal lobe (such as depression or anxiety) generally decrease creativity, while abnormalities in the temporal lobe often increase creativity. High activity in the temporal lobe typically inhibits activity in the frontal lobe, and vice versa. High dopamine levels increase general arousal and goal directed behaviors and reduce latent inhibition, and all three effects increase the drive to generate ideas.[28]

Working memory and the cerebellum

Vandervert[29] described how the brain’s frontal lobes and the cognitive functions of the cerebellum collaborate to produce creativity and innovation. Vandervert’s explanation rests on considerable evidence that all processes of working memory (responsible for processing all thought[30]) are adaptively modeled by the cerebellum.[31] The cerebellum (consisting of 100 billion neurons, which is more than the entirety of the rest of the brain[32] is also widely known to adaptively model all bodily movement. The cerebellum’s adaptive models of working memory processing are then fed back to especially frontal lobe working memory control processes[33] where creative and innovative thoughts arise.[34] (Apparently, creative insight or the ‘’aha’’ experience is then triggered in the temporal lobe.[35]) According to Vandervert, the details of creative adaptation begin in ‘’forward’’ cerebellar models which are anticipatory/exploratory controls for movement and thought. These cerebellar processing and control architectures have been termed Hierarchical Modular Selection and Identification for Control (HMOSAIC).[36] New, hierarchically arranged levels of the cerebellar control architecture (HMOSAIC) develop as mental mulling in working memory is extended over time. These new levels of the control architecture are fed forward to the frontal lobes. Since the cerebellum adaptively models all movement and all levels of thought and emotion,[37] Vandervert’s approach helps explain creativity and innovation in sports, art, music, the design of video games, technology, mathematics, the child prodigy, and thought in general.

REM sleep

Creativity involves the forming of associative elements into new combinations that are useful or meet some requirement. Sleep adds this process.[38] REM rather than NREM appears to be responsible.[1][39] This has been suggested to be due to changes in cholinergic and noradrenergic neuromodulation that occurs during REM sleep.[1] During this period of sleep high levels of acetylcholine in the hippocampus suppress feedback from hippocampus to the neocortex, and lower levels of acetylcholine and norepinephrine in the neocortex encourage the spread of associational activity within neocortical areas without control from the hippocampus.[40] This is in contrast to waking consciousness, where higher levels of norepinephrine and acetylcholine inhibit recurrent connections in the neocortex. It is proposed that REM sleep would add creativity by allowing "neocortical structures to reorganize associative hierarchies, in which information from the hippocampus would be reinterpreted in relation to previous semantic representations or nodes."[1]

Creativity and mental health

A study by psychologist J. Philippe Rushton found creativity to correlate with intelligence and psychoticism.[41] Another study found creativity to be greater in schizotypal than in either normal or schizophrenic individuals. While divergent thinking was associated with bilateral activation of the prefrontal cortex, schizotypal individuals were found to have much greater activation of their right prefrontal cortex.[42] This study hypothesizes that such individuals are better at accessing both hemispheres, allowing them to make novel associations at a faster rate. In agreement with this hypothesis, ambidexterity is also associated with schizotypal and schizophrenic individuals.

Particularly strong links have been identified between creativity and mood disorders, particularly manic-depressive disorder (a.k.a. bipolar disorder) and depressive disorder (a.k.a. unipolar disorder). In Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, Kay Redfield Jamison summarizes studies of mood-disorder rates in writers, poets and artists. She also explores research that identifies mood disorders in such famous writers and artists as Ernest Hemingway (who shot himself after electroconvulsive treatment), Virginia Woolf (who drowned herself when she felt a depressive episode coming on), composer Robert Schumann (who died in a mental institution), and even the famed visual artist Michelangelo.

Measuring creativity

Creativity quotient

Several attempts have been made to develop a creativity quotient of an individual similar to the Intelligence quotient (IQ), however these have been unsuccessful.[43] Most measures of creativity are dependent on the personal judgement of the tester, so a standardized measure is difficult, if not impossible, to develop.

Psychometric approach

J. P. Guilford's group,[12] which pioneered the modern psychometric study of creativity, constructed several tests to measure creativity in 1967:

  • Plot Titles, where participants are given the plot of a story and asked to write original titles.
  • Quick Responses is a word-association test scored for uncommonness.
  • Figure Concepts, where participants were given simple drawings of objects and individuals and asked to find qualities or features that are common by two or more drawings; these were scored for uncommonness.
  • Unusual Uses is finding unusual uses for common everyday objects such as bricks.
  • Remote Associations, where participants are asked to find a word between two given words (e.g. Hand _____ Call)
  • Remote Consequences, where participants are asked to generate a list of consequences of unexpected events (e.g. loss of gravity)

Building on Guilford's work, Torrance[44] developed the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking in 1966. They involved simple tests of divergent thinking and other problem-solving skills, which were scored on:

  • Fluency. The total number of interpretable, meaningful, and relevant ideas generated in response to the stimulus.
  • Originality. The statistical rarity of the responses among the test subjects.
  • Elaboration. The amount of detail in the responses.

The Creativity Achievement Questionnaire, a self-report test that measures creative achievement across 10 domains, was described in 2005 and shown to be reliable and valid when compared to other measures of creativity and to independent evaluation of creative output.[45]

Social-personality approach

Some researchers have taken a social-personality approach to the measurement of creativity. In these studies, personality traits such as independence of judgement, self-confidence, attraction to complexity, aesthetic orientation and risk-taking are used as measures of the creativity of individuals.[7] Other researchers[46] have related creativity to the trait, openness to experience.

Other approaches to measurement

Genrich Altshuller in the 1950s introduced approaching creativity as an exact science with TRIZ and a Level-of-Invention measure.

The creativity of thousands of Japanese, expressed in terms of their problem-solving and problem-recognizing capabilities, has been measured in Japanese firms.[47]

Howard Gruber insisted on a case-study approach that expresses the existential and unique quality of the creator. Creativity to Gruber was the product of purposeful work and this work could be described only as a confluence of forces in the specifics of the case.

Creativity in various contexts

Creativity has been studied from a variety of perspectives and is important in numerous contexts. Most of these approaches are undisciplinary, and it is therefore difficult to form a coherent overall view.[7] The following sections examine some of the areas in which creativity is seen as being important.

Creativity Profiles

Creativity comes in different forms. There is kind to produce growth, innovation, speed, etc. There are four “Creativity Profiles” that can help achieve such goals. [48]

(i) Incubate (Long-term Development)
(ii) Imagine (Breakthrough Ideas)
(iii) Improve (Incremental Adjustments)
(iv) Invest (Short-term Goals)

Creativity in diverse cultures

Francois Jullien in 'Process and Creation, 1989' is inviting us to look at that concept from a Chinese cultural point of view. Fangqi Xu[49] has reported creativity courses in a range of countries. Todd Lubart has studied extensively the cultural aspects of creativity and innovation.

Henry Moore's Reclining Figure

Creativity in art and literature

Most people associate creativity with the fields of art and literature. In these fields, originality is considered to be a sufficient condition for creativity, unlike other fields where both originality and appropriateness are necessary.[50]

Within the different modes of artistic expression, one can postulate a continuum extending from "interpretation" to "innovation". Established artistic movements and genres pull practitioners to the "interpretation" end of the scale, whereas original thinkers strive towards the "innovation" pole. Note that we conventionally expect some "creative" people (dancers, actors, orchestral members, etc.) to perform (interpret) while allowing others (writers, painters, composers, etc.) more freedom to express the new and the different.

Contrast alternative theories, for example:

  • artistic inspiration, which provides the transmission of visions from divine sources such as the Muses; a taste of the Divine. Compare with invention.
  • artistic evolution, which stresses obeying established ("classical") rules and imitating or appropriating to produce subtly different but unshockingly understandable work. Compare with crafts.
  • artistic conversation, as in Surrealism, which stresses the depth of communication when the creative product is the language.

In the art practice and theory of Davor Dzalto, human creativity is taken as a basic feature of both the personal existence of human being and art production. For this thinker,creativity is a basic cultural and anthropological category, since it enables human manifestation in the world as a "real presence" in contrast to the progressive "virtualisation" of the world.

Creative industries and services

Today, creativity forms the core activity of a growing section of the global economy — the so-called "creative industries" — capitalistically generating (generally non-tangible) wealth through the creation and exploitation of intellectual property or through the provision of creative services. The Creative Industries Mapping Document 2001 provides an overview of the creative industries in the UK. The creative professional workforce is becoming a more integral part of industrialized nations' economies.

Creative professions include writing, art, design, theater, television, radio, motion pictures, related crafts, as well as marketing, strategy, some aspects of scientific research and development, product development, some types of teaching and curriculum design, and more. Since many creative professionals (actors and writers, for example) are also employed in secondary professions, estimates of creative professionals are often inaccurate. By some estimates, approximately 10 million US workers are creative professionals; depending upon the depth and breadth of the definition, this estimate may be double.

Creativity in other professions

Isaac Newton's law of gravity is popularly attributed to a creative leap he experienced when observing a falling apple.

Creativity is also seen as being increasingly important in a variety of other professions. Architecture and industrial design are the fields most often associated with creativity, and more generally the fields of design and design research. These fields explicitly value creativity, and journals such as Design Studies have published many studies on creativity and creative problem solving.[51]

Fields such as science and engineering have, by contrast, experienced a less explicit (but arguably no less important) relation to creativity. Simonton[11] shows how some of the major scientific advances of the 20th century can be attributed to the creativity of individuals. This ability will also be seen as increasingly important for engineers in years to come.[52]

Accounting has also been associated with creativity with the popular euphemism creative accounting. Although this term often implies unethical practices, Amabile[50] has suggested that even this profession can benefit from the (ethical) application of creative thinking.

Creativity in organizations

Amabile[50] argued that to enhance creativity in business, three components were needed:

  • Expertise (technical, procedural & intellectual knowledge),
  • Creative thinking skills (how flexibly and imaginatively people approach problems),
  • and Motivation (especially intrinsic motivation).

There are two types of motivation:

Six managerial practices to encourage motivation are:

  • Challenge - matching people with the right assignments;
  • Freedom - giving people autonomy choosing means to achieve goals;
  • Resources - such as time, money, space etc. There must be balance fit among resources and people;
  • Work group features - diverse, supportive teams, where members share the excitement, willingness to help and recognize each other's talent;
  • Supervisory encouragement - recognitions, cheering, praising;
  • Organizational support - value emphasis, information sharing, collaboration.

Nonaka, who examined several successful Japanese companies, similarly saw creativity and knowledge creation as being important to the success of organizations.[53] In particular, he emphasized the role that tacit knowledge has to play in the creative process.

In business originality is not enough. Idea must also be appropriate - useful and actionable.[54]

Economic views of creativity

In the early 20th century, Joseph Schumpeter introduced the economic theory of creative destruction, to describe the way in which old ways of doing things are endogenously destroyed and replaced by the new.

Creativity is also seen by economists such as Paul Romer as an important element in the recombination of elements to produce new technologies and products and, consequently, economic growth. Creativity leads to capital, and creative products are protected by intellectual property laws.

The creative class is seen by some to be an important driver of modern economies. In his 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, economist Richard Florida popularized the notion that regions with "3 T's of economic development: Technology, Talent and Tolerance" also have high concentrations of creative professionals and tend to have a higher level of economic development.

Fostering creativity

Daniel Pink, in his 2005 book A Whole New Mind, repeating arguments posed throughout the 20th century, argues that we are entering a new age where creativity is becoming increasingly important. In this conceptual age, we will need to foster and encourage right-directed thinking (representing creativity and emotion) over left-directed thinking (representing logical, analytical thought).

Nickerson[55] provides a summary of the various creativity techniques that have been proposed. These include approaches that have been developed by both academia and industry:

  1. Establishing purpose and intention
  2. Building basic skills
  3. Encouraging acquisitions of domain-specific knowledge
  4. Stimulating and rewarding curiosity and exploration
  5. Building motivation, especially internal motivation
  6. Encouraging confidence and a willingness to take risks
  7. Focusing on mastery and self-competition
  8. Promoting supportable beliefs about creativity
  9. Providing opportunities for choice and discovery
  10. Developing self-management (metacognitive skills)
  11. Teaching techniques and strategies for facilitating creative performance
  12. Providing balance

Some see the conventional system of schooling as "stifling" of creativity and attempt (particularly in the pre-school/kindergarten and early school years) to provide a creativity-friendly, rich, imagination-fostering environment for young children. Compare Waldorf School.

A growing number of psychologists are supporting the idea that there are methods of increasing the creativity of an individual. Several different researchers have proposed approaches to prop up this idea, ranging from psychological-cognitive, such as:


to the highly-structured, such as:

Understanding and enhancing the creative process with new technologies

A simple but accurate review on this new Human-Computer Interactions (HCI) angle for promoting creativity has been written by Todd Lubart, an invitation full of creative ideas to develop further this new field.

Groupware and other Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW) platforms are now the stage of Network Creativity on the web or on other private networks. These tools have made more obvious the existence of a more connective, cooperative and collective nature of creativity rather than the prevaling individual one. Creativity Research on Global Virtual Teams is showing that the creative process is affected by the national identities, cognitive and conative profiles, anonymous interactions at times and many other factors affecting the teams members, depending on the early or later stages of the cooperative creative process. They are also showing how NGO's cross cultural virtual team's innovation in Africa would also benefit from the pooling of best global practices online. Such tools enhancing cooperative creativity may have a great impact on society and as such should be tested while they are built following the Motto : "Build the Camera while shooting the film". Some European FP7 scientific programs like Paradiso are answering a need for advanced experimentally-driven research including large scale experimentation test-beds to discover the technical, societal, and economic implications of such groupware and collaborative tools to the Internet.

On the other hand Creativity research may one day be pooled with a computable Metalanguage like IEML from the University of Ottawa Collective Intelligence Chair, Pierre Levy. It might be a good tool to provide an interdisciplinary definition and a rather unified theory of creativity. The creative processes being highly fuzzy, the programming of cooperative tools for creativity and innovation should be adaptive and flexible. Empirical Modelling seems to be a good choice for Humanities Computing.

If all the activity of the universe could be traced with appropriate captors, it is likely that one could see the creative nature of the universe to which humans are active contributors. After the web of documents, the Web of Things might shed some light on such a universal creative phenomenon which should not be restricted to humans. In order to trace and enhance cooperative and collective creativity, Metis Reflexive Global Virtual Team has worked for the last few years on the development of a Trace Composer at the intersection of personal experience and social knowledge.

Metis Reflexive Team has also identified a paradigm for the study of creativity to bridge European theory of "useless" and non instrumentalized creativity, North American more pragmatic creativity and Chinese culture stressing more creativity as a holistic process of continuity rather than radical change and originality. This paradigm is mostly based on the work of the German philosopher Hans Joas, one that emphasizes the creative character of human action. This model allows also for a more comprehensive theory of action. Joas elaborates some implications of his model for theories of social movements and social change. The connexion between concepts like creation, innovation, production and expression is facilitated by the creativity of action as a metaphore but also as scientific concept.

The Creativity and Cognition conference series, sponsored by the ACM and running since 1993 has been an important venue for publishing research on the intersection between technology and creativity. The conference now runs biannually, next taking place in 2009.

Social attitudes to creativity

Although the benefits of creativity to society as a whole have been noted,[56] social attitudes about this topic remain divided. The wealth of literature regarding the development of creativity[57] and the profusion of creativity techniques indicate wide acceptance, at least among academics, that creativity is desirable.

There is, however, a dark side to creativity, in that it represents a "quest for a radical autonomy apart from the constraints of social responsibility".[58] In other words, by encouraging creativity we are encouraging a departure from society's existing norms and values. Expectation of conformity runs contrary to the spirit of creativity. Sir Ken Robinson argues that the current education system is "educating people out of their creativity" [59][60]

Nevertheless, employers are increasingly valuing creative skills. A report by the Business Council of Australia, for example, has called for a higher level of creativity in graduates.[61] The ability to "think outside the box" is highly sought after. However, the above-mentioned paradox may well imply that firms pay lip service to thinking outside the box while maintaining traditional, hierarchical organization structures in which individual creativity is not rewarded.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Cai DJ, Mednick SA, Harrison EM, Kanady JC, Mednick SC. (2009). REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106: 10130–10134. PMID 19506253
  2. ^ Amabile, T. M., R. Conti, H. Coon, et al. (1996). "Assessing the work environment for creativity". Academy of Management Review 39 (5): 1154–1184. doi:10.2307/256995.  
  3. ^ Tatarkiewicz, pp. 244–46.
  4. ^ a b (Albert & Runco, 1999)
  5. ^ a b c (Tatarkiewicz, 1980)
  6. ^ Tatarkiewicz, pp. 247–48.
  7. ^ a b c (Sternberg, 1999)
  8. ^ (Ward, 2003)
  9. ^ (Smith, 1981)
  10. ^ (Anderson, 2000)
  11. ^ a b (Simonton, 1999)
  12. ^ a b c (Guilford, 1967)
  13. ^ (Koestler, 1964)
  14. ^ (Weisberg, 1993)
  15. ^ Hadamard, 1954, pp. 13-16.
  16. ^ a b Brian, 1996, p. 159.
  17. ^ G. H. Hardy cited how the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan had “moments of sudden illumination.” See Kanigel, 1992, pp. 285-286.
  18. ^ Interview with Walter Heitler by John Heilbron (March 18, 1963. Archives for the History of Quantum Physics), as cited in and quoted from in Gavroglu, Kostas Fritz London: A Scientific Biography p. 45 (Cambridge, 2005).
  19. ^ von Franz, 1992, p. 297 and 314. Cited work: B. L. van der Waerden, Einfall und Überlegung: Drei kleine Beiträge zur Psychologie des mathematischen Denkens (Gasel & Stuttgart, 1954).
  20. ^ von Franz, 1992, p. 297 and 314. Cited work: Harold Ruegg, Imagination: An Inquiry into the Sources and Conditions That Stimulate Creativity (New York: Harper, 1954).
  21. ^ Hadamard, 1954, p. 56.
  22. ^ von Franz, 1992, pp. 297-298.
  23. ^ von Franz, 1992 297-298 and 314.
  24. ^ Jung, 1981, paragraph 440, p. 231.
  25. ^ a b (O'Hara & Sternberg, 1999)
  26. ^ (Plucker & Renzulli, 1999)
  27. ^ (Kenneth M Heilman, MD, Stephen E. Nadeau, MD, and David Q. Beversdorf, MD. "Creative Innovation: Possible Brain Mechanisms" Neurocase (2003)
  28. ^ (Flaherty, 2005)
  29. ^ Vandervert 2003a, 2003b; Vandervert, Schimpf & Liu, 2007
  30. ^ Miyake & Shah, 1999
  31. ^ Schmahmann, 1997, 2004
  32. ^ Andersen, Korbo & Pakkenberg, 1992
  33. ^ Miller & Cohen, 2001
  34. ^ Vandervert, 2003a
  35. ^ Jung-Beeman, Bowden, Haberman, Frymiare, Arambel-Liu, Greenblatt, Reber & Kounios, 2004
  36. ^ Imamizu, Kuroda, Miyauchi, Yoshioka & Kawato, 2003
  37. ^ Schmahmann, 2004,
  38. ^ Wagner U, Gais S, Haider H, Verleger R, Born J. (2004). Sleep inspires insight. Nature. 427(6972):352-5. PMID 14737168
  39. ^ Walker MP, Liston C, Hobson JA, Stickgold R. (2002). Cognitive flexibility across the sleep-wake cycle: REM-sleep enhancement of anagram problem solving. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 14(3):317-24. PMID 12421655
  40. ^ Hasselmo ME. (1999). Neuromodulation: acetylcholine and memory consolidation. Trends Cogn Sci. 3(9):351-359. PMID 10461198
  41. ^ (Rushton, 1990)
  42. ^ (Actual paper)
  43. ^ (Kraft, 2005)
  44. ^ (Torrance, 1974)
  45. ^ (Carson, 2005)
  46. ^ for example McCrae (1987)
  47. ^ Details:
  48. ^ (DeGraff, Lawrence 2002)
  49. ^ Fangqi Xu, et al. A Survey of Creativity Courses at Universities in Principal Countries
  50. ^ a b c (Amabile, 1998; Sullivan and Harper, 2009)
  51. ^ for a typical example see (Dorst et al., 2001)
  52. ^ (National Academy of Engineering 2005)
  53. ^ (Nonaka, 1991)
  54. ^ Amabile, T.M. (1998). "How to kill creativity". Harvard Business Review
  55. ^ (Nickerson, 1999)
  56. ^ (Runco 2004)
  57. ^ see (Feldman, 1999) for example
  58. ^ (McLaren, 1999)
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ (BCA, 2006)


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External links

An invention is a new composition, device, or process. An invention may be derived from a pre-existing model or idea, or it could be independently conceived in which case it may be a radical breakthrough. In addition, there is cultural invention, which is an innovative set of useful social behaviors adopted by people and passed on to others.[1] Inventions often extend the boundaries of human knowledge or experience. An invention that is novel and not obvious to others skilled in the same field may be able to obtain the legal protection of a patent.



Invention is a creative process. An open and curious mind enables one to see beyond what is known. Seeing a new possibility, a new connection or relationship can spark an invention. Inventive thinking frequently involves combining concepts or elements from different realms that would not normally be put together. Sometimes inventors skip over the boundaries between distinctly separate territories or fields. Ways of thinking, materials, processes or tools from one realm are used as no one else has imagined in a different realm.

Play can lead to invention. Childhood curiosity like playing in a sand box, experimentation and imagination can develop one's play instinct—an inner need according to Carl Jung. Inventors feel the need to play with things that interest them, and to explore, and this internal drive brings about novel creations.[2] Thomas Edison: "I never did a day's work in my life, it was all fun". Inventing can also be an obsession.

To invent is to see anew. Inventors often envision a new idea, seeing it in their mind's eye. New ideas can arise when the conscious mind turns away from the subject or problem; or when the focus is on something else; or even while relaxing or sleeping. A novel idea may come in a flash - a Eureka! moment. For example, after years of working to figure out the general theory of relativity, the solution came to Einstein suddenly in a dream "like a giant die making an indelible impress, a huge map of the universe outlined itself in one clear vision".[3] Inventions can also be accidental, such as in the case of polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon).

Insight is also a vital element of invention. It may begin with questions, doubt or a hunch. It may begin by recognizing that something unusual or accidental may be useful or that it could open a new avenue for exploration. For example, the odd metallic color of plastic made by accidentally adding a thousand times too much catalyst led scientists to explore its metal-like properties, inventing electrically conductive plastic and light emitting plastic-—an invention that won the Nobel Prize in 2000 and has led to innovative lighting, display screens, wallpaper and much more (see conductive polymer, and organic light-emitting diode or PLED).[4]

Invention is often an exploratory process, with an outcome that is uncertain or unknown. There are failures as well as successes. Inspiration can start the process, but no matter how complete the initial idea, inventions typically have to be developed. Inventors believe in their ideas and they do not give up in the face of one or many failures. They are often famous for their perseverance, confidence and passion.

Inventors may, for example, try to improve something by making it more effective, healthier, faster, more efficient, easier to use, serve more purposes, longer lasting, cheaper, more ecologically friendly, or aesthetically different, e.g., lighter weight, more ergonomic, structurally different, with new light or color properties, etc.[5] Or an entirely new invention may be created such as the Internet, email, the telephone or electric light. Necessity may be the mother of invention, invention may be its own reward, or invention can create necessity. Nobody needed a phonograph before Edison invented it, the need for it developed afterward. Likewise, few ever imagined the telephone or the airplane prior to their invention, but many people cannot live without these inventions now.[6]

The idea for an invention may be developed on paper or on a computer, by writing or drawing, by trial and error, by making models, by experimenting, by testing and/or by making the invention in its whole form. As the dialogue between Picasso and Braque brought about Cubism, collaboration has spawned many inventions. Brainstorming can spark new ideas. Collaborative creative processes are frequently used by designers, architects and scientists. Co-inventors are frequently named on patents. Now it is easier than ever for people in different locations to collaborate. Many inventors keep records of their working process - notebooks, photos, etc., including Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.[7] In the process of developing an invention, the initial idea may change. The invention may become simpler, more practical, it may expand, or it may even morph into something totally different. Working on one invention can lead to others too. There is only one country in the world that will grant patent rights for an invention that continues part of an invention in a previously filed patent—the United States.[8]

The creation of an invention and its use can be affected by practical considerations. Some inventions are not created in the order that enables them to be most useful. For example, the parachute was invented before powered flight.[9] There are inventions that are too expensive to produce and inventions that require scientific advancements that have not yet occurred.[10] These barriers can erode or disappear as the economic situation changes or as science develops. But history shows that turning an invention that is only an idea into reality can take considerable time, even centuries as demonstrated by inventions originally conceived by Leonardo da Vinci which are now in physical form and commonplace in our lives.[11] Interestingly, some invention that exists as only an idea and has never been made in reality can obtain patent protection.[12]

An invention can serve many purposes, these purposes might differ significantly and they may change over time. An invention or a further developed version of it may serve purposes never envisioned by its original inventor(s) or even by others living at the time of its original invention. As an example, consider all the kinds of plastic developed, their innumerable uses, and the tremendous growth this material invention is still undergoing today.[13]

Artistic invention

Invention has a long and important history in the arts. Inventive thinking has always played a vital role in the creative process. While some inventions in the arts are patentable, others are not because they cannot fulfill the strict requirements governments have established for granting them. (see patent).

Art, design and architecture

"A man paints with his brain and not with his hands." - Michelangelo [14]

Art is continuously reinvented. Many artists, designers, and architects think like inventors. As they create, they may: explore beyond that which is known or obvious, push against barriers, change or discard conventions, and/or break into new territory. Breaking the rules became the most valued attribute in art during the 20th century, with the highest acclaim going to conceptual innovation which frequently involved the invention of new genres. For the first time the idea within the artwork was unmistakably more important than the tangible art object. All kinds of artists have been inventing throughout history, and among their inventions are important contributions to visual art and other fields.

Some visual artists like Picasso become inventors in the process of creating art. Inventions by other artists are separate from their art, such as the scientific inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. Some inventions in visual art employ prior developments in science or technology. For example, Picasso and Julio Gonzalez used welding to invent a new kind of sculpture, the form of which could be more open to light and air, and more recently, computer software has enabled an explosion of invention in visual art, including the invention of computer art, and invention in photography, film, architecture and design. Like the invention of welded sculpture, other inventions in art are new mediums, new art forms, or both. Examples are: the collage and the construction invented by Picasso, the Readymade invented by Marcel Duchamp, the mobile invented by Alexander Calder, the combine invented by Robert Rauschenberg, the shaped painting invented by Frank Stella, and the motion picture, the invention of which is attributed to Eadweard Muybridge.[15] Art has been reinvented by developing new processes of creation. For example, Jackson Pollock invented an entirely new form of painting and a new kind of abstraction by dripping, pouring, splashing and splattering paint onto unstretched canvas laying on the floor. A number of art movements were inventions often created collaboratively, such as Cubism invented by Picasso and Braque. Substantial inventions in art, design and architecture were made possible by inventions and improvements in the tools of the trade. The invention of Impressionist painting, for example, was possible because the prior invention of collapsible, resealable metal paint tubes facilitated spontaneous painting outdoors. Inventions originally created in the form of artwork can also develop other uses, as Alexander Calder's mobile is commonly used over babies' cribs today. Funds generated from patents on inventions in art, design and architecture can support the realization of the invention or other creative work. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's 1879 patent on the Statue of Liberty helped fund the statue currently in New York harbor because it covered small replicas.[16]

Among other artists, designers and architects who are or were inventors are: Filippo Brunelleschi, Le Corbusier, Naum Gabo, Frederick Hart, Louis Comfort Tiffany, John La Farge, Buckminster Fuller, Walt Disney, Man Ray, Yves Klein, Henry N. Cobb, I. M. Pei, Kenneth Snelson, Helen Frankenthaler, Chuck (Charles) Hoberman and Ingo Maurer. Some of their inventions have been patented. Others might have fulfilled the requirements of a patent, like the Cubist image. There are also inventions in visual art that do not fit into the requirements of a patent. Examples are inventions that cannot be differentiated from that which has already existed clearly enough for approval by government patent offices, such as Duchamp's Readymade and other conceptual works. Invention whose inventor or inventors are not known cannot be patented, such as the invention of abstract art or abstract painting, oil painting, Process Art, Installation art and Light Art. Also, when it cannot or has not been determined whether something was a first in human history or not, there may not be a patentable invention even though it may be considered an invention in the realm of art. For example, Picasso is credited with inventing collage though this was done earlier in cultures outside of the western world.

Inventions in the visual arts that may be patentable might be new materials or mediums, new kinds of images, new processes, novel designs, or they may be a combination of these. Inventions by Filippo Brunelleschi, Frederick Hart, Louis Comfort Tiffany, John La Farge, Walt Disney, Henry N. Cobb, Chuck (Charles) Hoberman and others received patents. The color, International Klein Blue invented by Yves Klein was patented in 1960 and used two years later in his sculpture. Inventions by Kenneth Snelson which are crucial to his sculptures are patented. R. Buckminster Fuller's famous geodesic dome is covered in one of his 28 US patents. Ingo Maurer known for his lighting design has a series of patents on inventions in these works. Many inventions created collaboratively by designers at IDEO Inc. have been patented. Countless other examples can easily be found by searching patents at the websites of the Patent Offices of various countries, such as Inventions in design can be protected in a special kind of patent called a "design patent". The first design patent was granted in 1842 to George Bruce for a new font.[17] See a database of patents in the arts at See images and text from some patents in the arts at[18][19][20]


Music has been expanded by invention over the course of thousands of years.

Timeline - dates may be approximations

5000 BCE - The first flutes were made in China out of bones.

3000 BCE - The first string instrument, the guqin was invented in China.

619 - The orchestra was invented in the Chinese royal courts with hundreds of musicians.

855 - Polyphonic music was invented.[citation needed]

910 - The musical score was invented by the musician, Hucbaldus. He also invented a staff that had an indefinite number of lines.

1025 - Musical notes were invented by Guido of Arezzo, named UT, RE, MI, FA, SO and LA. Later in the 16th century UT was changed to DO and TI was added. Lines/staves to space printed notes were added then too.

1225 - Rounds, songs sung in harmony, were invented with the song, Sumer is icumen in by John of Fornsete, an English monk.

1607 - A tonal system that gave the recitative a more flexible accompaniment was invented, revolutionizing music in the first opera masterpiece, Orfeo, by Claudio Monteverdi, a composer, musician and singer.

1696 - The metronome, a device for beating time was invented by Etienne Loulie, a musician, pedagogue and musical theorist.[21]

1698-1708 - The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori[22]

1787 - Algorithmic music was invented by Amadeus Mozart with his Musikalisches Wurfelspiel.

1829 - The accordion, a portable reed instrument was invented by Damian.

1835 - The tuba[1] proper was first patented by Prussian bandmaster Wilhelm Wieprecht and German instrument-builder Johann Gottfried Moritz.

1841 - The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax, an instrument maker.

1880 - Tango music was invented by the Argentinians, combining African, Indian and Spanish rhythms.

1919 - The first electronic music instrument, the theremin was invented by Lev Theremin. It is played by moving hands near an antenna.

1922 - Muzak, engineered music without vocals, tempo changes or brass instruments was invented by Brig. General George Owen Squier.[23]

1932 - The electric guitar, the Frying pan was invented by George Beauchamp

1953 - Rock and Roll was invented by the musician, Bill Haley with Crazy Man Crazy combining guitars, saxophones, piano, bass, and snare drums, who was imitating African American musicians such as Chuck Berry.

1957 - Computer-assisted musical composition was invented with Illiac Suite for String Quartet by scientists at the University of Illinois in Urbana.[24]

1964 - The Moog Synthesizer was invented by Robert Moog.[25]

1974 - The Chapman Stick was invented by Emmett Chapman.


Literature has been reinvented throughout history.

Timeline - dates may be approximations

1950 BC - The novel was invented with a narrative form. This was Story of Sinuhe about a prince of Egypt who flees after a court killing, is saved in the desert by a Bedouin tribe, and marries the eldest daughter of a king. Some people see Story of Sinuhe as the precursor of the story of Moses in the Bible.

675 BC - The heroic ballad was invented by Stesichorus of Sicily.

553 - Scandal literature was invented by Procopius in Anecdota.

808 - Copying written works by printing was invented by the Chinese who created The Diamond Sutra a seven page paper scroll, printed with woodblocks.

1022 - The romance novel was invented by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese noblewoman who wrote Genji the Shining One.

1657 - The science fiction novel was invented by Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac who wrote Les etas et empires de la lune about a trip to the moon.

1816 - Literary horror was invented by Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein.

1843 - The mystery novel was invented by Edgar Allan Poe who wrote "The Gold-Bug".

1857 - Writing in which the author conceals a single narrator's perspective and uses multiple other points of view was first done by Gustav Flaubert in Madame Bovary.

1895 - The serial comic strip was invented by the publisher, Joseph Pulitzer with The Yellow Kid, in the New World Newspaper.[26]

Performing arts

The value of invention in acting was noted by Paul Newman when retiring, "You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that's pretty much a closed book for me".[27]

Works by Martha Graham and many other artists known for invention.[28]

Timeline - dates may be approximations

450 BCE - Mime was invented by Sophron of Syracuse.

1597 - Opera was invented by Jacopo Peri with Dafne. Peri was an Italian composer and singer.

1780 - Bolero dance was invented by Sebastiano Carezo, a Spanish dancer.

1833 - Minstrel shows were invented by Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice. also a fruit. 1880 - Tango dance was invented by the Argentinians, combining African, Indian and Spanish rhythms.

1922 - Radio drama was invented as Eugene Walter's play, The Wolf was broadcast by WGY, a station in Schenectady, New York. WGY later created a whole radio show, The WGY Players that presented radio adaptations of popular plays.[29]

1993 - a system that allows the wearer of specially designed shoes to lean forward beyond his center of gravity and appear to defy gravity was invented and patented by Michael Jackson, Michael Bush, and Dennis Tompkins. Michael Jackson used it in performances. Refer to US Patent No. 5,255,452.


Inventions get out into the world in different ways. Some are sold, licensed or given away as products or services. Simply exhibiting visual art, playing music or having a performance gets many artistic inventions out into the world. Believing in the success of an invention can involve risk, so it can be difficult to obtain support and funding. Grants, inventor associations, clubs and business incubators can provide the mentoring, skills and resources some inventors need. Success at getting an invention out into the world often requires passion for it and good entrepreneurial skills.[30]

In economic theory, inventions are one of the chief examples of "positive externalities", a beneficial side-effect that falls on those outside a transaction or activity. One of the central concepts of economics is that externalities should be internalized—unless some of the benefits of this positive externality can be captured by the parties, the parties will be under-rewarded for their inventions, and systematic under-rewarding will lead to under-investment in activities that lead to inventions. The patent system captures those positive externalities for the inventor or other patent owner, so that the economy as a whole will invest a more-closely-optimum amount of resources in the process of invention.

Invention and innovation

In the social sciences, an innovation is anything new to a culture, whether it has been adopted or not. The theory for adoption (or non-adoption) of an innovation, called diffusion of innovations, considers the likelihood that an innovation will ever be adopted and the taxonomy of persons likely to adopt it or spur its adoption. This theory was first put forth by Everett Rogers.[31] Gabriel Tarde also dealt with the adoption of innovations in his Laws of Imitation.[32]

See also

Thinking portal


  1. ^ Artificial Mythologies: A Guide to Cultural Invention by Craig J. Saper (1997); Review of Artificial Mythologies. A Guide to Cultural Invention, Kirsten Ostherr (1998)
  2. ^ The Lemelson Center's website, Invention at Play: Inventors' Stories,; and Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors (2004), p.14-15 by Evan I. Schwartz.
  3. ^ Einstein: A Life by Denis Brian p.159 (1996)
  4. ^, The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2000
  5. ^ Countless examples can easily be found by searching patents, such as on
  6. ^ Forks, Phonographs, and Hot Air Balloons: A Field Guide to Inventive Thinking p. 8 (1992), by Robert J. Weber, also from Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors, p. 13 (2004) by Evan I. Schwartz
  7. ^ The Inventor's Notebook by Fred Grissom and David Pressman (2005); Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Inventor by Simona Cremante (2005),;
  8. ^
  9. ^ White, Lynn: The Invention of the Parachute, Technology and Culture, Vol. 9, No. 3, (Jul., 1968), pp. 462-467
  10. ^ See US Patent #5,461,114 and D11,023 as well as Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Inventor by Simona Cremante (2005)
  11. ^ Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Inventor by Simona Cremante (2005)
  12. ^ Patent It Yourself by David Pressman (2000), particularly section 9/2, as a specific example refer to 1879, F. Auguste Bartholdi U.S. Patent D11,023
  13. ^ Most information is directly from the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center for Invention and Innovation,, e.g., Invention at Play: Inventors' Stories, and Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors (2004) by Evan I. Schwartz (download an interview with this author about his book at Also: Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking (1985) by Vera John-Steiner;;,; American article "How Did the Heroic Inventors Do It?" by Thomas P. Hughes at; History of Plastics and Plastic Packaging Products — Polyethylene, Polypropylene, and More; A directory of resins from 600 plastics manufacturers Plastics Materials; Detailed Guide To All Plastics Processes, British Plastics Federation; Plastics Historical Society; History of plastics, Society of the Plastics Industry
  14. ^ Finding quotations was never this easy
  15. ^, and see
  16. ^ 1879, F. Auguste Bartholdi U.S. Patent D11,023
  17. ^
  18. ^ "A Textbook Example of Ranking Artworks" by Patricia Cohen, The New York Times, (08-04-08)
  19. ^ Picasso and the Invention of Cubism by Pepe Karmel (2003)
  20. ^ Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Inventor by Simona Cremante (2005)
  21. ^ Patenting Art and Entertainment by Gregory Aharonian and Richard Stim
  22. ^
  23. ^ Patenting Art and Entertainment by Gregory Aharonian and Richard Stim
  24. ^ Patenting Art and Entertainment by Gregory Aharonian and Richard Stim
  25. ^
  26. ^ Patenting Art and Entertainment by Gregory Aharonian and Richard Stim
  27. ^
  28. ^ Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi by Howard Gardner (1993)
  29. ^ Patenting Art and Entertainment by Gregory Aharonian and Richard Stim
  30. ^ Inventors Assistance League; License Your Invention by Richard Stim (2002);; United Inventors Association,; The Inventor's Bible: How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas by Ronald Louis Docie (2004)
  31. ^ Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition by Everett Rogers (2003), also see
  32. ^ Les lois de l'imitation Gabriel Tarde (1890)


  • Asimov, Isaac. Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery, Harper & Row, 1989. ISBN 0-06-015612-0
  • De Bono, Edward, "Eureka! An Illustrated History of Inventions from the Wheel to the Computer", Thames & Hudson, 1974.
  • Gowlett, John. Ascent to Civilization, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992. ISBN 0-07-544312-0
  • Platt, Richard, "Eureka!: Great Inventions and How They Happened", 2003.
  • Patenting Art and Entertainment by Gregory Aharonian and Richard Stim (2004)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Invention article)

From Wikiquote

Invention is a term which refers to the activity of creating new forms, compositions of matter, devices, or processes, or to the products of this activity. Some inventions are based on pre-existing forms, compositions, processes or ideas. Other inventions are radical breakthroughs which may extend the boundaries of human knowledge or experience.



  • Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
  • A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.
  • Necessity, who is the mother of invention.
    • Commonly misattributed to Plato, this is from the idiomatic translation by Benjamin Jowett (1871) of Plato's Rebublic, Book II, 369-c. A more literal translation of the Greek (Jowett, Plato's Republic: The Greek Text, Vol. III "Notes", 1894, p. 82) reads "Our need will be the real creator."
  • A tool is but the extension of a man's hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well-being of mankind.
  • We issued gorged with knowledge, and I spoke: 'Why, Sirs, they do all this as well as we." "They hunt old trails" said Cyril, "very well; But when did woman ever yet invent?'
  • Only an inventor knows how to borrow, and every man is or should be an inventor.
  • Creativity perpetually invents itself.
    • Paul Palnik Creative Consciousness. The Healthiest State of Mind, p. 36
  • All recognized famous inventors had capable predecessors and successors and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product.
    • Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 245


  • All of the biggest technological inventions created by man - the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.
  • Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
  • Discovery consists in seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.
  • Electric telegraphs, printing, gas, Tobacco, balloons, and steam, Are little events that have come to pass Since the days of the old regime. And, spite of Lempriere's dazzling page, I'd give--though it might seem bold--A hundred years of the Golden Age For a year of the Age of Gold.
  • Everything that can be invented has been invented.
  • The golden hour of invention must terminate like other hours, and when the man of genius returns to the cares, the duties, the vexations, and the amusements of life, his companions behold him as one of themselves--the creature of habits and infirmities.
  • I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.
  • Invention is the mother of necessity.
  • It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.
  • Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
  • The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.
    • Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • Probably the earliest flyswatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.
  • The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.
  • Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation...tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
  • Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
  • Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.
  • What the country needs are a few labor-making inventions.
  • Everything that could have been invented has been patented.
  • The most amazing and effective inventions are not those which do most honor to the human genius.
  • To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
  • Invention starts by a spark in the gap between laziness and exuberance.
    • Shimon Shmueli

See also


External links

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Look up invention in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

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Simple English

Creativity (or creativeness) is the ability of a person to be creative, take part in creating, or be useful in a creative network of other people. It is very difficult to measure, and some think it should not be measured. The reason is that creativity can not be defined - although several attempts have been made, a shared definition of the concept of creativity still comes up short.

Some think creativity is an important thing that makes humans different from apes. Others recognize that even apes, other primates, other mammals and some birds adapt to survive by being creative (for example - primates using tools). Liane Gabora believes that all culture comes from creativity, not imitation. Therefore, these people say, human science should focus on it: Ethics for example would focus on finding creative solutions to ethical dilemmas. Politics would focus on the political virtues that need some creativity. Imitation would not be the focus of education. Linguistics might be more interested in how new words are created by culture, rather than in how existing ones are used in grammar.

Intellectual interests (recognized as intellectual rights or intellectual property in the law) are a way to reward creativity in law, but they do not always work very well. A good example is copyright which is supposed to pay authors and artists, but may only pay lawyers to make (imitative) arguments in court.

Creativity is a central question in economics, where it is known as ingenuity (the ability to come up with new ideas) or individual capital - capacities that individuals have, that do not arise from simple imitation of what is known already. This is separate from the instructional capital that might try to capture some of that in a patent or training system that helps others do what the individual leader or founder of the system can do. In urban economics there are various ways to measure creativity - the Bohemian Index and Gay Index are two attempts to do this accurately and predict the economic growth of cities based on creativity. For information on creativity see practical creative ideas and tools

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