Creativity theory essay Example

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Creativity Theory

Creativity Theory

Creativity Theory

Executive Summary

This essay is prepared to compare and evaluate two theories of creativity. These two theories are theory of creativity based on association and theory of creativity based on accident. Creativity is one aspect of life that has been there since human existence. Human race has frequently questioned why some people are much more creative compared to others. At the end of this essay, scholars will be better off to answer that question. The paper will look at the concepts behind both association and accidental theory, compare the two and provide their weakness. It will also relate the theories to the contemporary organization and society.


Creativity is normally recognized as daily driver of successful and effective society. According to Dul, Ceylon & Jaspers (2011, p.716) the society is undergoing massive pressure to create so as to gain competitive edge from global setting which is ever more becoming competitive and complex. Owing to this, the members of the society has to reinforce or instill creativity culture within the society; though, more focus in this endeavor is done at a personal level although group work is also critically encouraged (Dunbar & Fugelsang 2005, p.62). The more people associate the more they become creative. Grace, Gero & Saunders (2012, p.198) claims that Individuals are of critical significance to creativity and process needs supportive and well-managed environment which can interpret novel concept into quality product effectively. Creativity did not just come from the vacuum but there have been different theories that have been attributed to it. For that reason, this essay compares and evaluates two theories of creativity namely accidental and association theory.

Background of creativity

Meyers & Gerstman (2007) defined creativity as the ability of coming up with a new and diverse viewpoints on an issue. Charles cave claim that being creative means is observing similarly thing just like as everybody else, but considering it different (Meyers & Gerstman 2007). It entails breaking down and reorganization knowledge regarding a topic so as to acquire new insights. According to Walla’s Model (Stages) of the creative process, creativity undergoes four steps including preparation, incubation, illumination and verification (Ward 2007, p.31).

Experts are of the opinion that creative thinkers must be open to new ideas, be engaging, learn by mistake and be detached to devotion (Adams 2005). Majority of earliest cultures as well as Ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese and Christian of Medieval times lacked the aspect of creativity since they view art as an element of invention and not creation. Nonetheless, none of their opinions are same as the contemporary idea of creativity, and people were not perceived as the foundation of the creation until times of Renaissance. It is the time of Renaissance when creativity was observed for the first time, not as a medium of divine, but from capabilities of the «great men» (Dul, Ceylon & Jaspers 2011, p.724). The major pioneers of the creativity theory include Arthur Koestler, Max Wertheimer, Graham Wallas, Henri Poincaré, William Duff, Thomas Hobbes, Hermann von Helmholtz and James C. Kaufman among others. These pioneers argue that people individuals become creative in response to different circumstances or reserved emotions.

The Theories

Theories of creativity based on association

This theory was formulated by Arthur Koestler in 1964. He believes that creativity is normally based on association. From explaining and comparing numerous different cases of discovery and invention, he concluded that all thinkers share a general pattern that he called «bisociation», Meaning blending of components which is obtained from two past unconnected matrices of thinking into new matrices (Popova 2014).

According to Popova (2014) Koestler came up with the word “bisociation” to demonstrate the combinatorial aspect of creativity and that it operates similar to the slot machine, relying on the pattern-identification machinery of mind, and needs the restructuring of the raw materials into “fresh” ideas. Koestler also proposes that originality, economy and emphasis are general attributes of a creative thought. The framework underlying the act of creativity is the distinguishing of an idea or situation, L, in two the self-dependable but regularly incompatible platforms of orientation, M1 and M2. The action L, where the two orientations intersect, was made to pulsate concurrently on two dissimilar wavelengths, sort of. Whilst this strange event lasts, the L is not just connected to one associative framework, but “bi-associated” with the two (Popova 2014). In a nutshell, the main reasoning in this context is that creativity is an aspect of the divergent thinking and free association thinking which is mostly facilitated by brainstorming and reinforced by convergent thinking in order to provide a creative concept.

Koestler continues to say that this kind of creativity considers humor, art and science to pass ideas (Dunbar & Fugelsang 2005, p.59). In Koestler’s analysis, laughter is usually aggravated by the clash of the two matrices and, especially when aggressive-defensive and self-assertive sensations get involved. These sensations have the tendency of causing bodily action owing to their great determination and inertia” which cannot sustain the fast “bi-associative” act (Popova 2014). Bi-associative thinking is way Koestler distinguishes the regular linear thinking from lateral thinking- meaning, the form of leap of faith which connects formerly seeming distinct frames of ideas. This view holds that creativity can be learnt from people with diverse background.

Theories of creativity based on accident

Just as the name suggest, this is a form of creativity that emerges by chance. Accidental invention has been a subject of debate particular from 20th century (Gaughan 2010). Different thinkers talk about the position luck play in knowledge. These proponents provide different forms of accidental inventions like those of immunization emerging from the disruption in work, vaccination of smallpox from observation and radioactivity from wrong theory (Gaughan 2010). The advocates of creativity argue creativity based on accident is not planned but comes out automatically. This needs open mind and criticism, because the invention may not work properly. However, the critics claim that creativity cannot just depend on luck but there must be knowledge (André et al, 2009, p.307).

Research claims that the scientists are trained on various practices and heuristics which facilitate their study to benefit from chance. Gaughan (2010) posits that researchers employ scientific method since the watchful control situations in science enable them to appropriately recognize something as «unpredicted», prospectively making them to acquire new knowledge. The idea of serendipity is a widespread happening during the narration of scientific innovation like accidental invention of penicillin by Alexander Fleming’s in 1928, and Percy Spencer’s discovery of microwave oven in 1945 (Gaughan 2010). Another example is of accidental theory is the discovery of lysergic acid diethylamide by Albert Hofmann who was initially trying to develop substance to which treat bleeding immediately after childbirth and also migraines (Meyers & Gerstman 2007).


While the Koestler’s theory of association is founded on the divergent thinking and free thinking and belief that social interaction of people can eventually result into creativity, theories of creativity based on accident is founded on chance that discovery can actually be done during unexpected times. Dunbar and Fugelsang (2005, p.61) contend that research shows that 33 to 50 percent of every scientific discovery is unexpected. The association theory is set on the premise where build new relationships themselves and among different ideas so as to come up with new concepts. On the contrary, Meyers & Gerstman (2007, p.39) postulate that theory of accidents creativity is based on the premise that creativity is an open ended concept, hence any possibility is practical due to the organic and non-linear framework which separates the whole development and its chance. While the theory of association seem to be true due to the fact that interaction of different individuals or construct can lead to exchange of information, resulting into creativity, theory of accident is not convincing because creativity theory normally have no set time and commitment.


Evaluation of the two theories will reveal the strengths and weakness will hold or break them. One of the strengths theories of association is that it provides presents an opportunity for the distributed discovery. In this perspective individual seek for divergent opinions through brainstorming so as to have a comprehensive idea (Grace, Gero & Saunder 2012, p.197). This gives the inventor more ideas on how to structure his product to solve the society needs. In this consideration, theory of creativity based on association recognizes that fundamental creative ideas are manifest itself as combination and enhancement founded on different concept built by means of brainstorming to offer fresh solution. There are several creative discoveries which have been put in place because of such processes. Miettinen (2006, p.179) affirms that most of these discoveries normally in a planned and management and learning organization and knowledge management are encouraged. For example is the discovery of enzyme-aided pulp bleaching took place through association.

Miettinen (2006, p.173) state that encounter portrays basis of distributed discovery made by means of divergent thinking, convergence and brainstorming. The success of this theory underlies on the fact that it enable structured engagement to take place outside the accidents theory in which discovery only happens as matter of chance and not as deliberate thing. Divergent thinking is founded on creation of very many ideas which do not limit anyone of ideas. What follows is evaluation of the ideas to select the most appropriate one. This advantage of this is that the invention can be accepted by many people in the society. To acquire these ideas brainstorming must be made a culture within the organization of just general society. (Meyers & Gerstman (2007, p.140) contends that the repeat of processes become the norm in the brainstorming event which is then corrected in order to align the entire process to continuous suitable changes which comes as a result of being open mindedness, allowing new idea, and lateral thinking and allowing criticism.

Accident has an outstanding tradition in account of science to have played a critical role in numerous considerable discoveries. Computer scientists praising the responsibility of chance in invention have tried to develop systems which support serendipity. However, this development has concentrated mainly on just one element of serendipity, which is the chance of succeeding only. It is this weakness of accidental theory which enables association theory to portray its strength. Grace, Gero & Saunders (2012, p.195) asserts that in fact many people are of the opinion that creativity is more of a planned process in which a person develop by means of divergent thinking in which he or she build an idea, analyze it and conclude it via convergent thinking. This perspective portrays creativity as a planned course which does not take place randomly but involves balanced and critical thinking.

Advocates of serendipitous (accidental) discovery believe that all inventions are often as a result of chance; even an individual who discovers does not believe it could work (Gaughan 2010). Advantage of this is that many people try their hand in invention. However, some researchers and scholars claim that accidents theory cannot just rely on mere chance, and that luck is simply part of the entire process. They go on to argue that individual who has is purported to discover something in accident nature are always aware of the surrounding and the societal need so has the knowledge to organize his or her thoughts. André (2009, p.20) holds that even Louis Pasteur knew that prior knowledge of the surrounding is important in creativity when he made statement that chance favors only the prepared brains. Chance then become the unexpected and emerging information after having the knowledge.


These two theories play a major role in knowledge management and even in changing minds of the people who thinking that creativity must involved a wide individual research. From this view, association theory is valid in that creative mind must involve other individuals to evaluate and develop a fine and quality product. Based on this theory, many organizations today encourage team work for rapid development and quality product to meet the demand of ever changing business world. However, association theory cannot be left to stand on its own because it will scare people from individual discovery. As such it can be complemented with accidental to encourage individual who have ideas and want to present it to the world. Some of the discoveries that happened in the past were actually as a result of accident. This has been witnessed in the field of engineering and medicine among others.


As started earlier, the objective of this essay was to compare and evaluate theory of association and accidents theories of creativity. At the end this has been achieved through proper research with related example on the occurrences of both the theories. As a yardstick for evaluating the two theories, the essay paged its research on components of creativity which are knowledge, influence and creative thinking. The findings will help organizations and society to not only encourage team work but also not discourage individual discoveries.


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