understanding creativity

Problems in the Creative mind

For all the hype, being creative can be tough. Despite the all the benefits of a creative mind, it comes with some challenges as well.

Creative people are more vulnerable

Creative people tend to be open to new experiences and tolerant of ambiguity; due to this perspective, they are constantly seeing life in new, novel ways. Though it is this ability that enables them to make new discoveries and generate new ideas, it also tends to lead to feelings of depression or social alienation. Where less creative people respond more quickly to authority, the creative’s ill-defined, fluid perspective makes it more difficult to relate to the rest of the outside world; they may have to deal with criticism and rejection for being too unconventional.

Creative minds have difficulty filtering sensory imput

Creatives are more at risk for mental illness which seems to stem from a problem filtering out stimuli entering the brain. Though this characteristic may be useful making novel connections, it may cause distractions that cause them to become more introverted.

Read Susan Biali’s full article here:

And for more information on the ups and downs of the creative mind, refer to The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius

Creativity in the Workplace

In the rapidly changing world of the digital age, innovation happens everyday. Businesses have been forced to adapt to these rapid market changes or become obsolete. As future technological forecasts predict only more game changing innovation, it will only be a business’ ability to adapt that will guarantee its longevity. This fundamental change in business mentality means different sets of skills are required from employees. When the name of the game is adaptability and innovation, the value of creative, forward thinking people has become ever more essential.

Here are ways the workplace can support creative thinking:

Smaller is Better

Naturally, bigger groups tend to be poor at fostering individual expression. People tend to work best in groups of a similar size to an extended family. The objective is for the group to be small enough for everyone to get to know each other. Fragmenting a larger business may not seem efficient to the accountant, but it is a tried and true way to bolster creative output.

Working Together

A group working harmoniously together is more effective then any individual within it. Yale psychologist Robert Sternberg calls it “group IQ”, the sum total of all talents in the group. When a team works well together, everyone’s productivity can be maximized. In the sporting world, this kind of team dynamic (often labeled “team chemistry”) is constantly being evaluated as a way of getting the most out of players; the workplace would do well to adopt a sports team mentality.

Keeping an Open Mind

Cynical, unreceptive managers kill creativity. The moment a fresh, innovative idea is hatched, it is very vulnerable. If an employee feels as though their creations will be shut down and ridiculed, they will never bring them forward. Until thought and preparation has been put into an idea, they can be difficult to communicate. When an employee comes forward with a suggestion that you feel is not a good idea, voice your concerns and ask them to work out some more of the details. By encouraging them to continue developing their idea, they may come back with a marketable result. And even if they do not, you have still sent a message to the rest of the workplace that innovation is encouraged.

Valuing Intuition

Robotic, over structured workplaces are dinosaurs. Not only is making intuitive decisions necessary for a business to be innovative, but employees do not want to feel over managed. Workplaces that empower their employees are more desirable than the alternative and thereby attract better talent.


Read D. Goleman and P. Kaufman’s full article here:

Creativity and Cannabis

A 2009 estimate reported that 125 to 250 million people have used cannabis worldwide (UNODC,2011). This comes in the face of clinical warnings of acute and chronic deficits that hinder learning and recalling information, integration of complex information, and an increase in the risk of psychotic disorders (WHO). However, it has long been held by creative types that marijuana can help to boost creative thinking.

Schafer and colleagues (2011) investigated this claim, leading to some good news for marijuana users. They hypothesized that the cannabis state can mimic that of psychosis, in turn, this break from normal thinking could lead to more novel associations, hence greater creativity.

The evidence is preliminary and incomplete, however it does highlight the need for further investigation.

V. Krishna Kumar’s full article can be read here:

Four Techniques to Boost Creativity

Robert Epstein has been studying the creative process for almost 20 years. Here are a few of his suggestions as to how we can improve our creativity:

Capturing Ideas

Novel ideas come to us all the time, in unexpected ways. These ideas can be lost just a quickly as they occur to us. Creative people find ways to capture their ideas the moment they have them. If you want a sure way to boost your creativity, start carrying around a notebook. Crystallizing your thoughts onto paper will help you remember them as well as a record for future retrieval.

Challenge Yourself

Setting limitations can hamper your creative performance. In a brainstorm, never simply generate three or four ideas. Challenging yourself to come up with as many ideas as possible will give you many more choose from, resulting in a better ‘winning’ idea.


Though structured, ‘good-old-fashioned learning’ doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with creativity, it can plays an integral part in how learn. Acquiring new knowledge and skills gives a creative a new weapon with which they can create. Most inventive ideas come from cross-pollination with other disciplines, so never stop learning.


Associations with your environment can spark ideas. Keep these fresh by changing your work settings every so often.

Robert Epstein’s full article can be read here:

The Creative Personality Type

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been researching how creative people function for over 30 years. According to the accumulation of her research, she asserts that “complexity” is the core personality trait that sets creatives apart. Csikszentmihalyi explains that creative thinkers “contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual,’ each of them is a ‘multitude'”. That “complexity” manifests itself in many ways.

Energetic and Restful

Creative people seem have an extraordinary amount of energy they enthusiastically use on their projects. They have the ability to zone in on one task and commit great amounts of energy to it. Though on the surface this may seem to be a product of good health or genetics, rather it tends to be a result of the ability to rest their focus when away from critical tasks.

Smart and Naive

Research has shown that intelligence correlates well with creative ability. However, this correlation seems to break down with IQ scores higher then 120. Acceptable novelty creation, is done through two ways of thinking: convergent and divergent. Convergent thinking, which is measured by IQ scores, involves solving problems that have a definitive answer. Divergent thinking on the other hand in makes novel associations, without any fixed criteria. Good creative thinkers need both.

Responsibility and Irresponsability

Creative people must have a sense of playfulness to generate their ideas, backed by the discipline to carry out the tedious hours involved in executing an idea. The common misconception of an artist is that their job is simply to conjure up new ideas. In reality those ideas could take tens, or hundreds of hours to complete.

Reality and Fantasy

The objective of creative thinking is generate new ideas. These ideas by definition, are fantasy and do not yet exist. However, a novel idea becomes creative when it finds becomes rooted within reality as well.

Introverts and Extroverts

Overcoming the inductive paradox, creative people seem to be able to embody both introverted and extroverted personalities.

Traditional and Rebellious 

Creative people must base their innovation upon the current state of the world. They must also however, rebelliously seek to remodel it.

Passion and Objectivity

Though it may take an enormous amount of passion to bring a project to fruition, one must also be able to step back and see it objectively. This gives an the creative person the ability to constructively criticize their own work, and improve upon it.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s full article can be read here:


Hello Readers,

The goal of this blog is to keep you updated on all things pertaining to the psychology of creativity. We will provide daily posts, updating you with the latest research, strategies and resources to keep your creative juices flowing!