100 Things You Should Know About People: #57 — There Are 4 Types Of Creativity

Lightbulb

Have you heard someone say, “Oh, John – he’s so creative! I wish I was creative like that.” It makes it sound as if creativity is a natural skill or talent, like the ability to sing or paint. Other times people say “I’m going to a seminar to learn how to be more creative.” That makes it sound as if creativity is a skill that anyone can learn. So, which is it? Well, kind of both and kind of neither.

Four Types of Creativity — Arne Dietrich (2004) identifies 4 different types of creativity with corresponding different brain activities. Think of it like a matrix:

Matrix of 4 types of creativity
The Creativity Matrix

Creativity can be either emotionally or cognitively based, and it can also be spontaneous or deliberate. That gives you the four quadrants.

#1: Thomas Edison — Deliberate and cognitive creativity is the kind of creativity that comes from sustained work in a discipline. For example, Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb, was a deliberate and cognitive creator. He ran experiment after experiment before he would come up with an invention. In addition to the light bulb, Thomas Edison also invented the phonograph, and the motion picture camera. One of his famous quotes is:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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