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What Is Creativity? - Definition & Exercises

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Instructor: Orin Davis

Orin holds a Ph.D. in Positive Organizational Psychology and a M.A. in Positive Organizational Psychology from Claremont Graduate University, as well as a B.S. in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. He has experience as a lecturer, teaching courses in Creativity, Critical Thinking, Psychology, Management, and Statistics.

Creativity is subjective and involves responding to a task, adding value and usefulness to it. Discover the definition and exercises of creativity, the four-C model of creativity, and the debunking of common myths. Updated: 09/12/2021

Determining Creativity

Two children are asked to draw a cat. Which one of the drawings is more creative?

Two Drawings of a Cat

Is it the one of the left, because that one more closely resembles a cat, while the one on the right is just a scribble? Or, is it the one on the right because it depicts a cat in an abstract and novel way, while the one on the left just includes some standard features of a cat (complete with the 'meow')? How does technique fit into determining creativity? In the drawing on the left, our young artist has left several of the lines unfinished, the whiskers are misaligned, and one ear is fully attached to the head. The drawing on the right, however, is composed of two continuous and relatively smooth lines.

In determining which drawing is more creative, there may also be an aesthetic value involved: Which drawing would you rather hang on your fridge? Personal considerations may include which drawing you might expect or want from your niece or nephew. Each of these considerations plays a role in determining whether something is creative. Creativity, then, is a novel response to a task that is useful, appropriate, and/or valuable.

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  • 0:03 Determining Creativity
  • 1:14 Four-C Model of Creativity
  • 2:43 Debunking Common Myths
  • 3:43 Lesson Summary
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Four-C Model of Creativity

A 3-year-old's unrecognizable imitation of a radio song, a song written by an unknown amateur guitarist, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen, and Ninth Symphony by Beethoven are all creative works. But, if you try to compare them, it might be hard to define them all as creative pieces. After all, what is an amateur guitarist's work when compared to a legendary composer's magnum opus? Of course, such a comparison can not only be really discouraging to the guitarist, but also really unfair. After all, Jimi Hendrix was once an unknown amateur, and even a really talented 3-year-old is not going to be producing Beethoven-caliber work at that age (Mozart didn't)!

These artists represent one of four levels of creativity through which producers pass (respectively), including:

  • Mini-c creativity, or personal insights
  • Little-c creativity, or interpersonal insights
  • Pro-c creativity, or professional contributions
  • Big-C creativity, or world-changing contributions

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