Creativity in Science

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CREATIVITY, which is the act of producing new ideas and turning them into reality, includes original thinking and transforming concepts into tangible forms. In the past, creation was believed to be solely the work of gods in different myths about how the world was made. But over time, creativity has come to include human innovation in areas like art and science, leading to what we now call the creative class. The term “creativity” comes from the Latin word “creo,” which means both “to create” and “to make.”

Throughout history, societies have had changing perceptions of creativity and the term itself. In the Christian period, “creatio” referred to God’s act of creating from nothing, distinguishing it from “facere,” or human making. During this time, the belief that art was not a realm of creativity remained. However, there was a shift in modern times regarding the history and understanding of the term and concept.

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During the Renaissance period, individuals known as Renaissance men embraced their own independence, freedom, and creativity. Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, a Polish poet, was the first to use the term “creativity” specifically in relation to poetry. However, for over 150 years, the concept of human creativity faced resistance because “creation” was typically associated with creating something from nothing. Baltasar Gracian believed that art served as a complement to nature and saw it as a secondary form of creation. In ancient Greece, art (except poetry) followed rules rather than freedom. In Rome, visual artists shared imagination and inspiration with poets to challenge the Greek concept of art. Although there were no direct equivalents to the term “creativity” in Greek or Roman languages, their art, architecture, music, inventions, and discoveries all exemplify what would now be considered creative works.

The Greek scientist of Syracuse, Archimedes, had a moment of inspiration in his Eureka experience, where he discovered the solution to a persistent problem he had been grappling with.

During that time, the concept of “genius” was likely the closest term to describe the creative abilities that led to such remarkable accomplishments.

With the advent of the 18th century and the Age of Enlightenment, creativity began to be discussed more frequently in art theory and became linked with imagination.

The perception of creativity in Western culture can be contrasted with that in Eastern culture.

Hindus, Confucianists, Taoists, and Buddhists had a different perception of creation compared to the Western world. They saw creation as a form of discovery or imitation rather than something that originated “from nothing.” However, in 19th century Western society, creativity became synonymous with art. This perspective later expanded to include discussions about creativity in the sciences and nature during the early 20th century. Interestingly, mathematicians and scientists like Hermann von Helmholtz and Henri Poincare began contemplating their creative processes and sharing their insights at this time. These initial ideas were further developed by early theorists such as Graham Wallas and Max Wertheimer.The scientific study of creativity is believed to have begun with J.P. Guilford’s 1950 address to the American Psychological Association. This address helped bring attention to the topic and promoted a scientific approach to understanding and measuring creativity. Alongside this, other researchers have taken a more practical approach by teaching techniques for fostering creativity.

Three well-known methods of creative thought include Alex Osborn’s “brainstorming” (1950s to present), Genrikh Altshuller’s Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ, 1950s to present), and Edward de Bono’s “lateral thinking” (1960s to present). Creative thought involves innovative problem solving, exploring new ideas or concepts, and forming connections between existing ideas or concepts. These insights can be conscious or unconscious.

The concept of imaginative thinking, also referred to as divergent thinking, is explored in multiple disciplines such as behavioral psychology, social psychology, psychometrics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, philosophy, aesthetics, history, economics, design research, business, and management. This form of thinking generates outcomes that are both innovative and scientifically significant.

The studies have explored various aspects of creativity, covering everyday creativity, extraordinary creativity, and artificial creativity. Unlike many scientific phenomena, there is no definitive perspective or definition of creativity. Additionally, psychology lacks a standardized method for measuring creativity. Creativity has been attributed to divine intervention, cognitive processes, the social environment, personality traits, and chance occurrences such as accidents or serendipity. It has also been linked to concepts like genius, mental illness, humor,and REM sleep.Some argue that creativity is an inherent trait while others believe it can be taught using simple techniques.In addition ,creativity has been perceived as a gift from a muse or muses.Although commonly associated with art and literature ,creativity plays a crucial role in diverse fields including innovation,invention,business,economics ,architecture ,industrial design ,graphic design advertising mathematics,music science and engineering and teaching.

Despite its complex and multi-faceted nature, creativity has given rise to entire industries centered around the pursuit of innovative ideas and the development of techniques to foster creativity. Leonardo da Vinci is widely celebrated for his creative accomplishments. The process of creativity has been associated with brain activity in both the right hemisphere and the frontal lobe, as well as with lateral thinking. Certain experts emphasize the role of chance in driving the creative process. In a public lecture, Linus Pauling explained how scientific theories are formed through generating numerous ideas and discarding those that prove useless. Otto Rank defines creativity as a process that challenges assumptions and breaks conventions, often leading to unconventional approaches and fresh ideas. Some theories suggest that emotions can influence creativity, while there is also a link between creativity and positive emotions.

According to Isen, positive affect has three main effects on cognitive activity. Firstly, it makes additional cognitive material available for processing, which increases the number of cognitive elements that can be associated. Secondly, positive affect leads to defocused attention and a more complex cognitive context, which broadens the scope of elements considered relevant to the problem. Lastly, positive affect enhances cognitive flexibility, increasing the likelihood of diverse cognitive elements becoming associated.

According to Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Model, positive emotions like joy and love expand a person’s repertoire of thoughts and actions, leading to enhanced creativity. These researchers argue that positive emotions broaden attention scope and cognitive scope, increasing the availability of cognitive elements for association and the number of relevant elements for problem-solving. Conversely, some theorists propose that negative affect can also stimulate creativity.

A crucial aspect of this viewpoint is the empirical evidence linking affective illness and creativity. Arnold Ludwig from the University of Kentucky conducted a study on 1,005 notable individuals in various professions during the 20th century. He discovered a modest yet noteworthy correlation between depression and the extent of creative accomplishments. Moreover, multiple systematic studies examining highly creative individuals and their family members revealed a greater occurrence of affective disorders, particularly bipolar disorder and depression, compared to the general population.

The relationship between affect and creativity at work can be categorized into three patterns: positive or negative mood, or a change in mood, that comes before creativity; creativity that comes before mood; and the occurrence of affect and creativity simultaneously. The research discovered that not only can affect come before creativity, but creative outcomes can also trigger affect. At its core, the experience of creativity is considered a work event, similar to other events in the organizational context, and it has the potential to elicit emotions.

While qualitative research and anecdotal accounts suggest that creative insight in the arts and sciences can often result in feelings of elation, empirical evidence remains inconclusive on this matter. Albert Einstein, for instance, famously described his 1907 general theory of relativity as “the happiest thought of my life.” Nonetheless, the emotional effect of creativity is likely to be more immediate and direct compared to how one’s emotional state might influence subsequent creativity. Generally speaking, affective events generate immediate and short-lived emotional responses.

The impact of finding meaning in being creative at work is likely only noticeable within data from the same day. Another study on the relationship between creativity and emotion at work revealed several interesting findings. First, there is a positive correlation between positive emotions and creativity, with no indication of a negative association. The more intense an individual’s positive emotions are on a specific day, the more apparent their creative thinking becomes on that day and the next – even when considering the mood of the following day. There was also some suggestion of an effect two days later.

While researchers did not discover any evidence suggesting that individuals become more creative when experiencing positive and negative emotions simultaneously, they did find a correlation between emotions and creativity. This implies that those who have more positive emotions are likely to be more creative in a work environment. Moreover, the researchers identified four ways in which emotions and creativity are linked: emotions can precede creativity, directly originate from it, indirectly arise from it, or occur concurrently with creative activity.

People’s emotions and imaginative thoughts appear to be connected in different ways in their daily work lives. Innovation, which can encompass incremental, emergent, radical, or revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations, represents a change in thought process or the creation of “new stuff that is made useful”. Scholars studying innovation often distinguish between invention – an idea that becomes tangible – and innovation – the successful application of ideas in practice (Schumpeter, 1934).

In various fields, innovation requires significant differentiation. In economics, this entails a modification that either improves value for customers or producers. The primary objective of innovation is to bring about positive change and enhance someone or something. Innovation drives economic growth and leads to increased productivity. The study of innovation is highly important in disciplines like economics, business, entrepreneurship, design, technology, sociology, and engineering. In everyday language, the term “innovation” is commonly used interchangeably with the final result of the creative process.

While economists analyze the entire innovation process, including idea conception, value creation, and execution, they also study the system in which this process occurs. Recognizing that innovation is a key driver for the economy, particularly when it results in new product categories or improved productivity, policymakers must understand the factors that stimulate innovation. Supporters of innovation economics emphasize the significance of using public policy to promote both innovation and economic growth.

In the realm of innovation, whether it’s individuals or organizations at the forefront, they are commonly known as pioneers. When it comes to organizations, innovation can be linked to performance and growth by enhancing efficiency, productivity, quality, and competitive positioning. All sorts of organizations like hospitals, universities, and local governments have the ability to innovate. Although innovation generally brings value, it can also have negative consequences by displacing or altering existing organizational structures and practices. Organizations that fail to effectively innovate may be surpassed by their innovative counterparts—highlighting the inherent risk associated with innovation. A significant challenge in innovation lies in striking a balance between process and product innovations. Process innovations often involve an improved business model that boosts shareholder satisfaction through enhanced efficiencies while product innovations seek to improve customer support but can be costly and potentially impact shareholder returns.

In academic research, innovation is described as the result of investing time and effort in researching, developing, and commercializing an idea. It encompasses various fields like technology, commerce, social systems, economic development, and policy construction. Therefore, there are different interpretations and perspectives on how to conceptualize innovation in scholarly literature.

Sources of innovation can come from various avenues. In the linear model of innovation, the commonly acknowledged source is manufacturer innovation. In this scenario, an individual or business innovates with the intention to market and sell the product. Another source of innovation, which is now gaining recognition, is end-user innovation. In this case, an individual or company develops an innovation for their own personal or internal use as existing products fail to meet their requirements.

According to Eric Von Hippel, end-user innovation is the most important and critical type of innovation, as stated in his book “Sources of Innovation”. Joseph F. Engelberger, summarizing the findings of the “Project Hindsight” program by the US DoD in 1967, argues that innovations only require three things: 1. A recognized need, 2. Competent individuals with relevant technology, and 3. Financial support. Businesses achieve innovation through various methods, with a growing emphasis on formal research and development (R&D) for breakthrough innovations. However, innovations can also arise from informal on-the-job modifications, the exchange and combination of professional experience, and other pathways. While radical and revolutionary innovations typically emerge from R&D, incremental innovations can arise from practical experience. Nonetheless, there are numerous exceptions to these trends. User innovation is predominantly carried out by individuals who implement and utilize technologies and products as part of their regular activities.

Sometimes user-innovators can become entrepreneurs by selling their product, trading their innovation for other innovations, or being adopted by their suppliers. Nowadays, they can also freely reveal their innovations through methods like open source. In these networks of innovation, users or communities of users have the ability to further develop technologies and redefine their social significance. The question of whether innovation is primarily driven by new technological possibilities or social needs and market requirements has sparked intense debate.

There is an ongoing question about what exactly drives innovation in organizations and economies. Recent theoretical work and empirical research have shown that innovation is not solely driven by the industrial supply-side or user demand, but rather through a complex set of processes that involve various players including developers, users, consultancies, and standards bodies.

According to research on social networks, successful innovation often happens at the intersections of organizations and industries. This is where the problems and needs of users and the potential of technologies come together in a creative process that pushes boundaries. Organizational innovation programs are closely tied to goals, objectives, business plans, and market positioning. One reason corporations invest in innovation programs is to achieve growth. As noted by Davila et al. (2006), cost reduction and reengineering alone cannot lead to company growth…

Innovation is crucial for achieving substantial growth in revenue and profitability. Typically, businesses allocate a considerable portion of their earnings towards innovation, which involves modifying their existing products, processes, and services. The level of investment can vary, ranging from as little as 0.5% of revenue for organizations with minimal adaptation to over 20% of revenue for organizations with extensive adaptation. On average, businesses allocate 4% of their turnover to innovation endeavors.

For an organization with a turnover of one billion currency units, the investment required would be forty million units. This budget is usually allocated to different functions such as marketing, product design, information systems, manufacturing systems, and quality assurance. The specific amount invested might differ depending on the industry and market positioning. According to a survey among numerous manufacturing and services organizations, systematic organizational innovation initiatives are most commonly driven by: 1.

Improved quality, creation of new markets, extension of the product range, reduced labor costs, improved production processes, reduced materials, reduced environmental damage, replacement of products/services, reduced energy consumption, and conformance to regulations are the goals of innovation. These goals can be applied to any organization, including manufacturing facilities, marketing firms, hospitals, and local governments. It is important to note that innovation involves improvements to products, processes, and services, dispelling the myth that it solely focuses on new product development.

The success of innovation goals greatly depends on the firm’s prevailing environment. Research findings on failure vary, with estimates ranging from fifty to ninety percent of innovation projects being deemed unsuccessful in contributing to organizational goals. In relation to product innovation, one survey reveals that out of three thousand ideas, only one manages to succeed in the marketplace. Failure is a natural part of the innovation process, and successful organizations often embrace a certain level of risk.

Many organizations choose not to closely monitor the level of failure because they all experience it. Failure can have repercussions beyond just financial loss, including decreased employee morale, increased cynicism, and heightened resistance to change in the future. Failed innovations are typically ideas that have potential but were rejected or postponed due to limitations such as budgetary constraints, lack of skills, or poor alignment with current goals. It is crucial to identify and eliminate failures as early as possible in the process.

Early screening is crucial to prevent ineffective ideas from using up valuable resources that could be better used for more beneficial projects. It is important for organizations to openly discuss and debate failure in order to learn from it. Lessons learned from failure tend to have a longer-lasting impact on the organization compared to lessons learned from success. However, a high rate of failure throughout the innovation process can be wasteful and pose a threat to the organization’s future. The reasons for failure have been extensively studied and can differ greatly.

Some causes of failure will be external to the organization and beyond its control. Others will be internal and ultimately within the organization’s control. Internal causes of failure can be categorized into causes related to the cultural infrastructure and causes related to the innovation process itself. Failure in the cultural infrastructure may vary among organizations, but the following issues are commonly observed at some point during their life cycle (O’Sullivan, 2002): 1. Poor Leadership 2. Poor Organization 3. Poor Communication 4. Poor Empowerment 5. Poor Knowledge Management. Common causes of failure in the innovation process across most organizations can be simplified into five types: 1. Poor goal definition 2. Poor alignment of actions to goals 3. Poor participation in teams 4. Poor monitoring of results 5. Poor communication and access to information Effective goal definition requires organizations to clearly state their goals in a manner understandable to all participants in the innovation process. This often entails expressing goals in multiple ways.

Efficiently aligning actions with goals involves connecting concrete actions, like ideas and projects, with specific goals. It also involves effectively managing a portfolio of actions. Participation in teams refers to how individuals behave within teams, and each individual should have clearly defined responsibilities related to their role in achieving goals and actions, as well as the payment and reward systems that connect them to goal attainment. Finally, effectively monitoring results requires tracking all the goals, actions, and teams involved in the innovation process.

Innovation may not succeed if it is perceived as a rigid, mechanistic process where success is simply achieved by following a set formula. While driving change focuses on control, enforcement, and structures, it is only part of the equation when it comes to achieving innovation. Gatekeepers within an organization create the environment that allows innovation to happen, but it is ultimately individuals who drive innovation by recognizing opportunities, developing them, applying them, and adopting them. These individuals are closely involved in the day-to-day details of the organization.

The success of innovation relies on individuals’ ability to appreciate small details and align them with organizational objectives. This process fuels the creation and improvement of product or service offerings. Strategic structures that encourage individuals to contribute to the organization’s goals play a key role in fostering innovation. For this to happen, individuals must be motivated from within, supported by a nurturing culture, and have a broad sense of the future. It is important to note that innovation often involves change and may challenge established norms within an organization.

The need for a space to hear innovative ideas is necessary in order to counterbalance the potential exclusion that suppresses a young and innovative culture. According to Luecke and Katz (2003), innovation in organizations is defined as the successful introduction of a new thing or method, encompassing the embodiment, combination, or synthesis of knowledge in original, relevant, valued new products, processes, or services. A study conducted by Baregheh et al. (2009) within an organizational context provides a content analysis on the term “innovation,” defining it as the multi-stage process in which organizations transform ideas into new or improved products, services, or processes to successfully advance, compete, and differentiate themselves in their marketplace. While innovation typically involves creativity, it is not the same: innovation involves taking action on creative ideas to create a specific and tangible impact within the respective domain. Amabile et al. (1996) further suggest that all innovation starts with creative ideas and define innovation as the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization. Thus, creativity serves as the foundation for innovation but is not sufficient on its own.To achieve innovation, more than just a creative idea or insight is needed. The insight must be implemented to bring about real change, such as new business processes or changes in products and services. Innovation is a management process that requires specific tools, rules, and discipline. While creativity is seen as the foundation of innovation, innovation is seen as the successful execution of creative ideas within an organization. However, it should be noted that many authors use the terms “innovation” and “creativity” interchangeably when discussing individual and organizational creative activity. Therefore, it is often helpful to make a clear distinction between creativity and innovation.

When we talk about creativity, we are usually referring to the act of coming up with new ideas, approaches, or actions. On the other hand, innovation encompasses both generating and applying these creative ideas in a specific context. In the context of an organization, innovation is often used to describe the complete process of generating innovative ideas and transforming them into unique, beneficial, and commercially viable products, services, and business practices. Creativity, on the other hand, is specifically focused on the generation of new ideas by individuals or groups, which is an essential part of the innovation process.

Amabile et al. (1996) propose that creativity and innovation are closely interconnected. According to their research, while creative ideas are the foundation of innovation, creativity alone is insufficient for innovation. Both creativity and innovation are essential for employees to remain competitive in the market.

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Creativity in Science. (2018, May 08). Retrieved from

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