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Critical essay comparing and evaluating two theoretical approaches or problem solving processes of Creativity use strong practical work based examples to explain your theories.

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Comparison and evaluation two theoretical approaches of creativity


Creativity does not simply occur. Rather, it is a cognitive process that leads to the creation of new ideas or transforms old thoughts into restructured concepts. During this process, a person uses imagination as well as intuition to develop ideas and come up with a solution to a given problem. Although this appears to be a simple process, there is no clear cut definition of how the process of creativity happens. Therefore, various theories and models have been put forward by researchers in an attempt to describe how creativity occurs. This essay will compare and evaluate two of these models: the Whole Brain Model of creativity and Wallas’s Model of the creative process. To illustrate the relevance of the models, several examples will be used in the explanation.

The Whole Brain Model of Creativity

The Whole Brain Model, which was created by Herrmann (1989), is a concept that considers both a person’s preference for left-brained versus right-brained thinking and experiential versus conceptual thinking (Potgieter 1999, p. 10). In doing so, Herrmann came up with the concept of four quadrants of the brain, which are related to different styles of thinking. Based on the split brain theory that separated the functions of the human brain into right and left hemispheric processes, Herrmann separated the functions of the two hemispheres each into a lower quadrant and an upper quadrant (Potgieter 1999, p. 10). This is what is referred to the whole brain model with A, B, C, and D quadrants representing different abilities as shown in figure 1 below.

 critical essay comparing and evaluating two theoretical approaches or problem solving processes of Creativity use strong practical work based examples to explain your theories.

Source: Potgieter (1999, p. 10)

Each of the four quadrants A, B, C and D in the Whole Brain Model has different functions as follows. Quadrant A is associated with logical thinking, analysing of facts, as well as processing numbers. According to the reasoning behind the model a person who has a quadrant A dominance is rational and sensible, is a critical thinker, and likes to work with numbers and technical matters. Such a person likes to know how things work and to follow logical procedures. On the other hand, quadrant B deals with planning, organising facts, and meticulous review. An individual who relies heavily on this quadrant is well-organised, reliable, and orderly. Such a person likes to create plans and procedures and having things done on time. Quadrant C is related with interpersonal relationships and affects instinctive and emotional thinking processes. Individuals with a quadrant C dominance are sensitive to others and enjoy relating with and teaching others. Last but not least, quadrant D is associated with conceptualising, synthesising, and integrating details and patterns, and involves seeing the bigger picture rather than mere details (Potgieter 1999, p. 10; Daft 2008, p. 116).

Although the four quadrants of the brain suggested in the Whole Brain Model seem to have different functions, it has been suggested that these functions are usually coordinated (Polette 2012, p. 63). This implies that no matter the quadrant that seems to be dominant in a person, the person will undergo the creative process using the entire brain. This is well discussed by Polette (2012, p. 63), who argues that “creative thinking is a whole brain process”. That is, creative thinking results in new methods or procedures of doing something, or new products, and every part of the brain is involved (Polette 2012, p. 63). The upper right quadrant (quadrant D) visualises, creates and discerns an idea. The lower right quadrant (quadrant C) inspires and stimulates the idea. The lower left quadrant (quadrant B) organises and restructures the idea to make it presentable and the upper left quadrant (quadrant A) critiques the idea to ensure that it not only logical but also factual. This shows that all the process involved are essential in the creative process.

A good example of the above scenarios is in Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity. Although there is a story that Newton discovered gravity when an apple fell on him from a tree, it is indicated that the idea did not come to him immediately (Burkus 2014, p. 18). It can be said that the falling of the apple enabled him to visualise that there was some force causing the apple to fall (quadrant D). It is from here that he was inspired to find out what the force was (quadrant C) and organised his ideas with other thoughts (quadrant B). Thereafter, he set out to find out facts about the force by conducting various experiments to find logical, factual and analytical information (quadrant A) that would eventually lead to the discovery of the force of gravity.

Wallas’ Model of the Creative Process

Graham Wallas came up with model of creative processing in 1926. The model suggests the creative process involves four stages namely preparation, incubation, illumination and verification (Deb 2006, p. 269). Preparation involves carefully considering the problem to be solved and gathering resources to deal with problem. The conscious mind focuses on the problem. Incubation involves internalising the problem such that it becomes a largely subconscious activity. The mind analyses the problem and the resources available to make connections. Illumination encompasses coming up with possible solution to the problem and transferring the problem from subconscious thought to conscious thought. At this time the mind is optimistic that the problem can be solved using the possible alternatives. Finally, during the verification process, solutions are tested and may be put into use if they can be shown to be feasible (Griffin & Morrison 2010, p. 7).

The implication of the processes above is that creative thinking is a subconscious process and cannot be directed (Deb 2006, p. 269). That is, it can be said that when a person detects a problem and intends to solve it, his or her mind will undergo the four processes (preparation, incubation, illumination and verification) without necessarily having to be directed. Wallas however suggested that the creative process is recursive in nature (i.e. the stages can be repeated or revisited if required, after initially completing their original sequence) (Griffin & Morrison 2010, p. 7). This implies that if a person finds the solution suggested to a problem to be unviable, he or she might decide to continue assessing the problem or start the entire process afresh.

Similarities and Differences between the Two Models

The Whole Brain Model of creativity and Wallas’s Model of the creative process has notable similarities in that the former was conceptualised based on the latter. According to Pritzker (1999, p. 148), the Whole Brain Model is related to the Wallas’s four stages of the creative process (preparation, incubation, illumination and verification) as follows. Preparation and verification are on the left hemisphere of the brain while incubation and illumination are on the right hemisphere. These stages that are processed in the four quadrants of the brains and relate to the creativity processes involved in the four quadrants. This implies that in a way, Wallas’s Model was suggesting that creativity involves all the four quadrants of the brain, a point that was utilised later in the development of the Whole Brain Model. Ideally, the processes involved in the Whole Brain Model, that is, visualising, creating and discerning an idea; inspiring and stimulating the idea; organising and reformulating the idea to make it presentable; and critiquing the idea to ensure that it is logical and factual, somewhat relate to the four stages of Wallas’s Model(preparation, incubation, illumination and verification). Another similarity between the two models is in terms of how the creativity processes occur. The concept behind the thinking in Wallas’s model is that creativity occurs in a sequence of steps. Similarly, the whole Brain Model suggests that whole brain creative thinking involves a deliberate sequence, which can be seen in terms of the comparison made above.

There are also differences between the concepts involved in the two models. For instance, while the eureka moment (a point when a new idea emerges) is experienced in the illumination stage of Wallas’s Model (Narula 2006, p. 174), this stage is not explicitly defined in the Whole Brain Model. In addition, while the creativity steps in Wallas’s Model are said to be recursive, it is not clear whether the same happens in the processes of the Whole Brain Model.


In conclusion, both the Whole Brain Model of creativity and Wallas’ Model of the creative process are used to explain the processes that occur in the creative process. The two models are closely related since the Whole Brain Model is based on Wallas’s Model. Wallas’s model involves preparation, incubation, illumination and verification while the Whole Brain Model refers to thinking which happens in four quadrants of the brain. Both suggest that there is some sequence involved in regard to solving a problem. However, while various stages of creativity are clearly defined in the Wallas’s Model, the same cannot be said of the Whole Brain Model. In addition, whereas Wallas’ Model indicates that the creative process is recursive, the same is not indicated in the case of the Whole Brain Model


Burkus, D 2014, The myths of creativity: the truth about how innovative companies and people generate great ideas, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Daft, R L 2008, The leadership experience, 4th edition, Thomson Learning, Mason, OH.

Deb, T 2006, Strategic approach to human resource management, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi.

Griffin, W G & Morrison, D 2010, The creative process illustrated: how advertising’s big ideas are born, F+W Media, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio.

Narula, U 2006, Business communication practices: modern trends, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi.

Polette, N J 2012, ‘Developing the creative mind’, The brain power story hour: higher order thinking with picture books, McFarland, Jefferson, North Carolina, pp. 63-76.

Potgieter, E 1999, ‘Relationship between the whole brain creativity model and Kolb’s experiential learning model’, Curationis, December 1999, pp. 9-14, viewed 2 July 2014, <http://www.google.co.ke/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCsQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcurationis.org.za%2Findex.php%2Fcurationis%2Farticle%2Fdownload%2F742%2F679&ei=FPizU4r8K8aHOMTSgJgK&usg=AFQjCNE0fO6hLyQ66ATmrpiJ9U0vUvtS1w&sig2=N12UebsDWBeKtSjyeBsMQQ&bvm=bv.70138588,bs.1,d.ZGU>

Pritzker, S R 1999, Encyclopaedia of creativity, two-volume set, San Diego, California.