Chapter Summary

In this chapter, we have reviewed several aspects of creativity broadly organised into general approaches followed by a consideration of three specific treatments of possible cognitive processes involved in different expressions of creativity. The other main piece of work has been an evaluation of problem solving in general, as it has been reviewed over these two chapters. To summarise:

• The idea that creativity is a function of innate talents is not as straightforward as it first seems; not only is the idea of a talent hard to define but, once defined, there is littte evidence to support the idea that such innate talent exists.

• There are varying degrees of support for the proposal of different stages of creativity—notably, incubation and illumination. More productively, the Geneplore model has a high-level account of creativity—as generation and exploration—that is more easily specified as detailed cognitive processes.

• People often make discoveries by using mental models to simulate aspects of the world, an ability that appears to depend on domain-specific knowledge based on experiences in the world.

• Analogy is another method often used in discovery, whereby people use the relational structure of one domain of knowledge (e.g., the solar system) to understand or make inferences about a new domain/problem (e.g., the atom). There are a number of computational models of analogical thinking, some of which include explicit neurological constraints.

• Both trained scientists and ordinary people have a tendency to confirm their hypotheses rather than disconfirm them, even though logically the latter is the only valid strategy. This finding has been a constant of laboratory hypothesis-tasting tasks (like the 2-4-6 task) as well as more realistic, simulated environment tasks.

• The most important dimension to understanding problem-solving behaviour is the amount and type of knowledge that people bring to bear in the situation; this factor will determine the problem-solving strategies used and the likelihood of success. Problem-solving research can be criticised for lacking ecological validity, although this is less true today. Finally, thinking research has been increasingly influenced by connectionist-type models.

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