Creativity, Cognition and Material Culture
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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Individual creativity is standardly treated as an ‘internalist’ process occurring solely in the head. An alternative, more interactionist view is presented here, where working with objects, media and other external things is seen as a fundamental component of creative thought. The value of chance interaction and chance cueing — practices widely used in the creative arts — is explored briefly in an account of the creative method of choreographer Wayne McGregor and then more narrowly in an experimental study that compared performance on a Scrabble-like word discovery problem. Subjects were presented with seven letters and given two minutes to call out three-to-seven-letter English words. There were three conditions: The tiles were fixed in place, subjects were free to move the tiles manually or the tiles could be randomly shuffled. Results showed that random shuffling was best, with manual movement second. Three reasons are provided: Shuffling is faster and cheaper than mentally thinking of candidates; randomizing strings covers the search space better than a deterministic method based on past successes; and randomizing is equivalent to adding diversity to a team, which is known empirically to lead to more creative solutions.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): choreography; Creativity; interactivity; problem solving; randomness; Scrabble; thinking
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