Social Personality and Social Cognitive Approaches

Developing in parallel with the cognitive approach, work in the social-personality approach has focused on personality variables, motivational variables, and the sociocul-tural environment as sources of creativity. Researchers such as Amabile (1983), Barron (1968, 1969), Eysenck (1993), Gough (1979), MacKinnon (1965), and others noted that certain personality traits often characterize creative people. Through correlational studies and research contrasting high and low creative samples (at both eminent and everyday levels), a large set of potentially relevant traits has been identified (Barron & Harrington, 1981; Feist, 1999). These traits include independence of judgment, self-confidence, attraction to complexity, aesthetic orientation, openness to experience, and risk taking.

Proposals regarding self-actualization and creativity can also be considered within the personality tradition. According to Maslow (1968), boldness, courage, freedom, spontaneity, self-acceptance, and other traits lead a person to realize his or her full potential. Rogers (1954) described the tendency toward self-actualization as having motivational force and being promoted by a supportive, evaluation-free environment. These ideas, however, seem at odds with the many studies that have linked creativity and mental illness (e.g., Kaufman, 2001 a, 2001 b; Kaufman &Baer, 2002; Ludwig, 1995). If full creative potential is truly linked with self-acceptance and other positive traits, then one would not expect to find so many eminent creative individuals to have such maladjusted and poor coping strategies (Kaufman, 2002; Kaufman & Sternberg, 2000).

Focusing on motivation for creativity, a number of theorists have hypothesized the relevance of intrinsic motivation (Amabile, 1983, 1996; Crutchfield, 1962; Golann, 1962), need for order (Barron, 1963), need for achievement (McClelland, Atkinson,

Clark, & Lowell, 1953), and other motives. Amabile (1983, 1996; Hennessey & Amabile, 1988) and her colleagues conducted seminal research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Studies using motivational training and other techniques have manipulated these motivations and observed effects on creative performance tasks, such as writing poems and making collages.

Finally, the relevance of the social environment to creativity has also been an active area of research. At the societal level, Simonton (1984,1988, 1994, 1999) conducted numerous studies in which eminent levels of creativity over large spans of time in diverse cultures have been statistically linked to environmental variables. These variables include, among others, cultural diversity, war, availability of role models, availability of resources (e.g., financial support), and number of competitors in a domain. Cross-cultural comparisons (e.g., Lubart, 1990) and anthropological case studies (e.g., Maduro, 1976; Silver, 1981) have demonstrated cultural variability in the expression of creativity. Moreover, they have shown that cultures differ simply in the amount that they value the creative enterprise.

The social-cognitive and social-personality approaches have each provided valuable insights into creativity. However, if you look for research that investigates both social-cognitive and social-personality variables at the same time, you would find only a handful of studies. The cognitive work on creativity has tended to ignore the personality and social system, and the social-personality approaches tended to have little or nothing to say about the mental representations and processes underlying creativity.

Looking beyond the field of psychology, Wehner, Csikszentmihalyi, and Magyari-Beck (1991) examined 100 more recent doctoral dissertations on creativity. They found a "parochial isolation" of the various studies concerning creativity. There were relevant dissertations from psychology, education, business, history, history of science, and other fields, such as sociology and political science. However, the different fields tended to use different terms and focus on different aspects of what seemed to be the same basic phenomenon. For example, business dissertations used the term "innovation" and tended to look at the organizational level, whereas psychology dissertations used the term "creativity" and looked at the level of the individual. Wehner, Csikszentmihalyi, and Magyari-Beck (1991 ) described the situation with creativity research in terms of the fable of the blind men and the elephant. "We touch different parts of the same beast and derive distorted pictures of the whole from what we know: 'The elephant is like a snake,' says the one who only holds its tail; 'The elephant is like a wall,' says the one who touches its flanks" (p. 270).

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Mind and Memory Mastery

Mind and Memory Mastery

Tap into the memory secrets of geniuses… Discover The Untold Mind And Memory Secrets Used By The World’s Smartest People To Help You Unleash Your Full Potential! Finally You Can Fully Equip Yourself With These “Must Have” Mind And Memory Tools For Creating Your Ideal Lifestyle! Let’s face it, We all know the fact that we aren't using more than 10% of our brains. If we could, we'd be achieving much more and giving our fullest gifts to the world.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment