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What is creativity? In the dictionary it is defined as the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. As a discipline, creativity is “a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object.” As human beings we are capable of doing so many things just by creating and manifesting the thought. It is interesting how strong our minds are and how we can form a plethora of ideas to create so many things.
A fascinating thing about Psychology and Cognitive Science is that both fields look at how people function and look into the concepts of how the human mind works. The idea of varied human experience and our reaction to these experiences are the reason that I wanted to be a Cognitive Science major. The things in which we think about are different from everyone’s else’s thoughts but are also similar at the same time. Which makes me wonder so many more things about how humans have mentally developed. Is it because of how differently we think, we are capable of creating different things. Or how does our creative differences affect how we learn and is there evidence of people having different “learning styles”? Luckily, there have been plenty of research that studies human creativity, cognitive processes, mental models, and how well we perform these mental processes. In my own opinion, there are many different ways to learn how to do one thing. Sometimes, it is more difficult for some individuals to perform certain tasks because the way they’ve learned is prohibiting them from being successful at completing the task at hand. Vice versa as well, where it is also easier for some individuals to perform certain tasks because the way they’ve learned is enabling them to complete the tasks at hand. There is a huge possibility that if they would have learned in a different way, they would be capable in finishing the task or be able to finish the task in a different manner.
The importance of different styles of learning can be further explained through the Creative-Cognition Approach. The creative-cognition approach states that the access to different knowledge systems, defined as attributes, behaviors, and information that are characteristic of a specific social category, is pivotal in generating creative ideas. This approach was used to describe how different “knowledge sets” provide individuals with essential information for certain tasks in Chi-Ying Cheng, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, and Fiona Lee’s research article, Connecting the Dots Within Creative Performance and Identity Integration. Cheng et. al (2008) examined whether or not integration between two cultural identities predicts creative performance in creating new food dishes. They measured Asian Americans’ bicultural identity integration and asked them to create new food dishes where both of their cultural identities were relevant. For example, Asian and American ingredients were present. They then compared it to when only one of their cultural identities were relevant, i.e: when only Asian or only American ingredients were present. Sixty-one Asian American participants had their identity integration between their two cultural identities measured through their response to these four items from the Bicultural Identity Integration Scale : ‘‘I feel ‘Asian-American’’’, ‘‘I keep Asian and American cultures separate’’, ‘‘I feel part of a combined culture,’’ and ‘‘I am simply an Asian who lives in North America. They were asked to rate each item on a scale from 1 (completely disagree) to 5 (completely agree). Then the participants rated how strongly they identified with either Asian or American identities. They then attempted to come up with creative dishes. The experiment resulted in there being no significant difference in creativity and originality between the Asian-only and the American-only conditions but when combined (Asian and American) a significant difference in higher creativity and originality could be seen.
Cheng et. al (2008) also did a second study around female engineers. They used female engineers as participants because of the possible internal confliction between their gender identity as a woman and their professional identity in a predominantly male field of work. The researchers predicted that in comparison of female engineering students with low identity integration with high identity integration, that those who have higher identity integration would be more creative. 110 female engineering students were instructed to design a product to be marketed to and for women which is applicable to both their professional identity as an engineer and their gender identity as a woman. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. One of the conditions was that the target consumers were women. In the other condition, the target consumers were college students. They were then asked to list as many new and popular features as possible for their design. The female engineering students also completed the RAT and a measure of their integration of their gender and professional identities through an identity-integration scale. The scale contained four items: ‘‘I am simply a woman working in engineering’’, ‘‘I keep everything about being a woman and being an engineer separate’’, ‘‘I am a female engineer,’’ and ‘‘My identity is best described as a blend of both a woman and an engineer.’’ The higher the score indicated a higher level of integration of gender and professional identities. The women then rated their identification with their gender and with the engineering profession and how long they have been studying engineering. The experiment resulted in women with higher levels of integration appeared to have more creative designs regardless of the condition (gender and non-gender specific).
These studies by Cheng et. al supports the idea that having a different level of learning can contribute to more creativity. This is also seen in research article Embodied Metaphors and Creative “Acts”. In a four part study, Leung et. al examined how embodiment activates cognitive processes that facilitate the generating of new ideas and connections through the use of metaphors. In one of the five experiments, seventy-three participants were assigned an avatar of their gender and asked to imagine being that avatar in
Overall, the experiments resulted in supporting “creativity-enhancing effects of embodying creative metaphors.” Based on these few research studies we are able to see that people do have different learning styles but also that these different learning styles have an impact on our creative capabilities.
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