Why is creativity difficult to pin down?
There are several reasons why it's difficult to get a handle on creativity. One is because it's a complex and fuzzy concept, yet it's no more complex or fuzzy than work or play which we can happily discuss without the kind of unease which creativity can engender. Instead of trying to envisage creativity in its entirety, a popular solution suggested by Rhodes (1961) is to break it down into the '4 Ps of creativity': person, product, process, and press [environment] – a strategy which can be helpful even when considering how these various aspects of creativity interact.
There is also disagreement about the level of achievement which can legitimately be called creative. This ranges from the view that virtually everything invented can be called creative (Fabun, 1968) to the view that only high level achievements deserve this accolade (Ausubel, 1978). Arguably, a more useful approach has been adopted by Ghiselin (1963) who makes a distinction between higher creativity which changes how we see the world, and lower creativity as when undertaking normal research.
An excessively free use of the terms creative and creativity can also be problematic according to Stein (1983) who complained that they were being used for '... paradigmatic shifts, big and little inventions, new and improved products, creative cookery... and for creative financing – usually for questionable deals'.
There are at least three other reasons why creativity can seem like a slippery concept to handle. These include:
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