The Psychology of Creativity Explored

Written by: Janine Mack – B Sc
(Psychology)

Last updated date : March 30, 2022

Creativity lies within all of us. Of course, it expresses itself in different ways and at various times. Some people are better at understanding their creativity by themselves. Others may need time or some help from others. All in all, everyone can be creative. Some just can showcase it more than others. Ideally, instead of measuring a person’s creativity by the creative work they put out, it should be by their potential to do so. Creativity takes the initial form of ideas. They can then influence people into following them and produce an outcome. This article brings up the area of psychology to the discussion about creativity and explores the link between the two. Additionally, it looks into various creative thinking skills

Elderly Lady using positive self talk in front of mirror to manage low self-esteem and depression

Chapter 1:
Creativity Plus Psychology: The Nutshell Version

Defining the word proves tricky when it can mean a lot of things. One set definition to sum up all creativity entails doesn’t exist. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines it as “the ability to produce or develop original work, theories, techniques, or thoughts.” It adds that usually creative people are imaginative, original, and expressive.

A lot of people think that creativity solely means artistic expression. However, it’s only one aspect of it. Creativity isn’t limited to art only. For example, people can be creative in the ways they solve problems or innovate. Creativity is a sign of intelligence. This is because it involves thinking uniquely, out of the box, and coming up with new things. Many of our daily activities need a bit of creativity in our thinking skills now and then. And so, we tap into our potential sometimes without even knowing we are. For example, we may use it to approach matters in novel ways. Our thinking skills need to comprise of some creativity. This is because it helps us to come up with new approaches to going about things in our lives.

Studying the psychology of creativity has produced findings. One of them is divergent thinking. This is a way of thinking that helps with creative processes. It explores various solutions and ideas and this gives way to creativity. It is said to be spontaneous and free-flowing. This is all in contrast to its opposite, which is convergent thinking.

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Chapter 2:
The Factors behind Creativity

Creativity is something that is influenced and shaped by many different factors. For instance, these can determine a person’s creativity levels and how they express it plus their creative output. A range of such factors that impact creativity exists, some of which have been spoken about in the branch of psychology as well. An example is the set of factors psychologist Robert Sternberg states. These are:

  1. Abilities
  2. Knowledge
  3. Thinking styles
  4. Personality
  5. Motivation
  6. Environment

Additionally, certain personality traits are often seen in creative people as well. Some of these include:

  1. Openness
  2. Flexibility
  3. Imagination
  4. Curiousity
  5. Risk taking
  6. Positivity
  7. Independence
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Chapter 3:
The Factors That Can Limit Creativity

Sometimes one of the problems that arise in terms of creativity is the factors that block it. It can affect how people think of their abilities and their work plus its quality and quantity. These factors can either be internal or external. Here are some of them:

Self-criticism

Being overly harsh on ourselves can negatively impact us. Some forms of criticism are helpful. But there are also times it can do more harm than good. When we become very critical of ourselves we just focus on the negative side of things. This makes us overlook the positives. For example, we’re looking at all the flaws in our creative ideas we don’t appreciate the unique nature of the idea and ourselves for coming up with it. This can discourage us from nurturing our creative sides and pushing our ideas forward.

Stress

Stress affects many things and creativity levels are one of them. Being in a state of stress makes it hard to tap into our creative potential. As a result, our creativity suffers in addition to our physical and mental health.

Fear

Studies in psychology have shown how fear can have adverse impacts on creativity. In this context, people fear the outcomes of expressing their creativity. They may worry that their ideas won’t be accepted, will be judged, or that they’ll fail. And so it prevents them from using their abilities.

Beliefs

The beliefs we have do influence us. If we have rigid beliefs this can constrain us. Having strong beliefs narrows down the scope of our options. The wider our scope is, the more options are present to us. We can do this for example by being open to examining if our beliefs are right and inclusive and changing them or being more open-minded towards others.

Negativity from others

Without a surprise, exposure to negativity can affect people’s creativity levels too. Constantly hearing negative comments can hurt how people see their work and abilities. This can go to the point where they start to believe

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Chapter 4:
How to Develop Creative Abilities

Getting in touch with our creative side and having creativity as part of our thinking skills is important. It can be a valuable asset to have and help in both our personal and professional lives. As mentioned earlier, creative streaks reside in all of us. However, it’s not always apparent for some.

Here are some ways that can help to boost creative potential:
Prioritise having a growth mindset

A growth mindset is believing that you are in charge of how your life turns out and that your potential, talents, and abilities can grow and improve for the better. The belief is that this can be done in ways such as being hard-working, open-mindedness, having a passion to learn, seeing challenges as opportunities, getting feedback. This can contribute to improving creativity

Work on letting go of your fears

Fear is known to limit creativity. It prevents many from following their ideas or making them heard. However, sometimes our fear develops into a habit that hinders us from showing our potential. Working on whatever fears you have is one way to move towards expressing your creative abilities and improving them.

Collaborate with others

This is a good learning experience. You can not only put your abilities to the test but also learn from others. Being exposed to the thoughts and practices for example that others have can help expand your knowledge as well.

Exercise

It can sure help in getting creativity up and running. This is because, for example, research has shown how exercise helps to alleviate things like mental fog and fatigue.

Challenge any negative thoughts

Negativity is often an obstacle to many things. This includes creativity as well. Addressing the negative and self-critical thoughts can help to go about this problem.

Engage in brainstorming

Through this new ideas and information are put forward by various people within a group. Besides helping with problem-solving, it can also have positive outcomes on thinking skills and creativity and help them develop.

Do nothing

Indeed this may sound strange but there’s good reasoning behind the suggestion. Sometimes our minds just need a break. Doing that can be advantageous. Getting rest and momentarily moving away from things that take our attention and distract us can be good for our creativity.

Embrace your individuality

It’s what sets you apart! Often many people try to suppress their quirks and the little things that make them who they are. But these can be the very things that help them put out creative ideas and make a name for themselves. It can influence your thinking skills as well as your creativity. Since creativity is all about getting new and unique ideas, to do that better we ought to make use of our uniqueness too.

Positive affirmations

These can help you uplift your creativity. It can make you feel positive and empowered about your potential. This in turn can produce good creative outcomes. It has been evidenced that affirmations can go a long way. Studies in psychology have shown how they can improve mood, positively influence mindset and they can be used to boost creativity as well. There are plenty of statements you can use for this practice. Examples include reminding yourself that creativity lies within you, speaking positively about your abilities, and telling yourself that your ideas are unique and worthy of being heard. There are many free sources on the internet for instance that list plenty of affirmations for you to follow.