Many other ideas that seem at first blush to be domain-general will, if examined closely, be seen as just the opposite—very domain-specific. Attitudes such as openness to new ideas, fondness for playing with ideas, and willingness avoiding premature closure may be useful in many domains although in just which domains such attitudes are important is a mostly unanswered, perhaps because generally unasked, question.
But these are not attitudes that people have universally. One might be extremely open to new ideas in either cosmology or cosmetology, but have no interest in new ideas in the other. Such seemingly domain- general attributes are, in fact, extremely domain-specific. And although it may be true that openness to new ideas or fondness for playing with ideas, or willingness avoiding premature closure may contribute to creative performance in some, even many domains, the extent that this is true in almost any given domain is an open question. It is not even that clear what these things mean in different domains: Does this mean openness to any new idea, or only to certain kinds of ideas?
What kinds? Some higher level concepts seem to describe things that have an essential unity, a unity that would exist even if there were no concepts to describe it. Electromagnetic radiation existed before anyone could describe it as such or understand how differ- ent kinds of light, radio waves, X-rays etc.
Categories can be useful even when they do not represent natural divisions in the world, but we should be careful when assuming that just because a category or concept that we have described seems useful to us that it must therefore have some fundamental essence and would exist even if we did not find it convenient to give it a name. It is sometimes useful to group together beautiful artifacts, fascinating ideas, brilliant designs, and ingenious theories and call them all creative, but that does not mean that they share any underlying unity.
The same must be said for the cognitive processes that produce beautiful artifacts, fascinating ideas, brilliant designs, and ingenious theories. We can term them all creative thought processes, just as we can describe the people who think these diverse wonderful thoughts and do these diverse wonderful things as creative, but that does not mean that they actually share anything more than the common label we have attached to them all. They may have no more underlying unity than does a collection of books that all have purple book jackets.
What unity there is in the concept of creativity may be solely in the eye of the beholder and not at all in the beheld, whether the latter is artifacts, cognitive processes, personality attributes, or people. Domain-specific theories of creativity limit the range of creations and creative processes that are presumed to have some underlying unity.
This theoretical modesty gives them much more likelihood of actually describing something real. Scientific theories of molecular biology or plasma physics can tell us a great deal, but scientific theories of science as a whole can tell us very little. We might find creativity to be a similarly convenient category for some purposes, but not one that is amenable to domain-general or grand theories or useful in any kind of serious theory-building.
We may have to settle for many modest domain-specific theories of creativity if we want theories that actually have real explanatory or predictive power. The premature assumption that a grand unifying theory must exist can and often does mislead us and misdirect our research energies.
Some fields, like physics, may support grand unifying theories, and other, such as creativity, may not. As philoso- pher of science Godfrey-Smith , p. For this reason, creativity researchers and theorists would be wise to assume domain specificity unless research evidence from many different domains can be shown to point in a single consistent direction. Asking subjects to compose a fugue, create architectural drawings for a bridge, or develop a theory explaining dark energy would be unreason- able. Few people could do even one of those things, much less all three.
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Sternberg Eds. New York: Cambridge University Press. Why grand theories of creativity distort, distract, and disappoint. International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving, 21 1 , 73— Four more arguments against the Torrance Tests. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5, — How divergent thinking tests mislead us: Are the torrance tests still relevant in the 21st century? Unintentional dogmatism when thinking big: How grand theories and interdisciplinary thinking can sometimes limit our vision. New York: Routledge. Extension of the consensual assessment technique to nonparallel creative products.
Creativity Research Journal, 16, — Evidence to support the componential model of creativity: Secondary analyses of three studies. Creativity Research Journal, 9, — A report on the year follow-up of the torrance tests of creative thinking. Gifted Child Quarterly, 49, — CPS for kids: A resource book for teaching creative problem-solving to chil- dren.
Buffalo, NY: D. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Theory and reality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
The Creative Intelligence of Teachers Resisting the Pearsonizing of Global Education
HAN, K-S. Domain specificity of creativity in young children how quantitative and qualitative data support it. Journal of Creative Behavior, 37, — Creative approaches to problem solving: A framework for innovation and change. Los Angeles: Sage.
Artistic and everyday creativity: An act-frequency approach. Journal of Creative Behavior, 41, — Genius, lunatics, and poets: Mental illness in prize-winning authors. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 20, — The Sylvia Plath effect: Mental illness in eminent creative writers. Journal of Crea- tive Behavior, 35, 37— I bask in dreams of suicide: Mental illness, poetry, and women.
Review of General Psychology, 6, — A comparison of expert and nonexpert raters using the consensual assessment technique. Creativity Research Journal, 20, — Creativity polymathy: What Benja- min Franklin can teach your kindergartener. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, — Finding young Paul Robesons: The search for crea- tive polymaths. New York: Springer. Essentials of creativity assessment. Cianciolo Author Robert J. Optimizing Student Success in Sternberg Editor Rena F.
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