Theories of Creativity

Guilford’s theory of creativity 

One of the earliest models of creativity was created by a man named J. P. Guilford. Originally, Guilford was trying to create a model for the intellect as a whole, but in doing so also created a model for creativity.

Divergent production was part of Guilford’s attempt to organize all of the human cognition along three dimensions: (a) thought processes or operations; (b) contents to which the operations could be applied; and (c) products that might result from performing operations on different content categories.

 He stated that there were five types of operations, four types of content, and six types of products adding to a total of one hundred and twenty different types of possible metal tasks.

 These combined to produce 120 different mental abilities, many of which Guilford & his associates devised tests to measure & demonstrate using factor analysis.

Of these one hundred and twenty different mental tasks Guilford identified one specific operation as “divergent production” and marked it as being a vital component of creativity. This divergent production coupled with a content and a product created 24 possibilities that Guilford labelled collectively as “divergent thinking”.

By labelling this group of mental tasks as divergent thinking Guilford made an important assumption for creative research: ‘creativity is a category rather than one single concept’ it opened up the ability for other researchers to look at creativity with a whole new perspective. 

He explained that creativity was a result of having sensitivity, flexibility and fluency. 

Assessment of creativity is a forefront issue which has taken many forms, and Guilford’s idea of divergent production remains the most influential. This theory stated that creativity was a result of cognitive ability (intellect) alone. 

After Guilford’s initial model, researchers began to categorize  mental ability into subsets.

These models would help others understand and put into place one specific part of creativity that Guilford brought to light that is the intellectual requirement.

Torrance theory of creativity

 E.Paul Torrance believed that each person is unique and has particular strengths that are of value and must be respected; Therefore, education must be built on strengths and not weaknesses. It takes courage to be creative. Once you have a new idea, you are a minority of one.

Torrance, the “Father of Creativity” talked about four elements of creativity: Fluency of ideas), Flexibility (variety of ideas), Originality (uniqueness of ideas), and Elaboration (details of ideas). Torrance’s research has demonstrated that a variety of techniques for training in creative problem-solving produce significant creative growth without interfering with traditional kinds of educational achievement. Creative growth seems to be the greatest and most predictable when deliberate, direct teaching of creative thinking skills is involved.

The influence of Torrance’s theory mainly derives success from his tests of creativity, known as the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.

Creativity tests developed by E. Paul Torrance, the eminent American psychologist cover both verbal and non-verbal activities performed by the subjects and are claimed to be successfully used from kindergarten to graduate school.

According to one comprehensive survey of creativity research. The Torrance tests were used in three quarters or approximately seventy-five per cent of all published studies of creativity involving elementary- and secondary school students, and forty per cent of all creativity studies with college students and adults.