Compare and contrast the three frameworks used by Taylor and Turner (2016) to explore relationships and creativity
Creativity, or the ability to make something new, has been the focus of research by psychologists who seek to establish how relationships influence creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1997; Hennessey & Amabile 2010). In particular, social psychologists have suggested that creativity, rather than being an innate trait, can be nurtured and enhanced through training and education (Amabile 1983). Social psychologists have further categorised the concepts of creativity into three key frameworks: 'creative perspective'; 'creative collaborations'; and creative groups and cultures' (Taylor & Turner 2016). The aim of this research paper is to compare and contrast these three frameworks as they relate to creativity and relationships, by establishing common grounds amongst them, as well as the ways in which they differ.
Creativity is essential to our lives because it demands a high level of involvement and concentration (Becker 1982), a state at which people have been shown to be the happiest (Csikszentmihalyi 1997). Various definitions of creativity have emerged over the years, with Hennessey and Amabile (2010) describing creativity as encompassing “the development of a novel product, idea, or problem-solution that is of value to the individual and/or the larger social groups' (p. 572). Elsewhere, Amabile (1983) establishes that there are two parameters with which to assess if a response or product is creative, or not. First, the response or product must be new and suitable, correct, valuable, and useful to the activity for which it was intended. Secondly, the task ought to be heuristic, as opposed to algorithmic (Amabile 1983, p. 360). Taylor and Turner (2016) describe an algorithmic task as one whose solution is realised by following a definite set of rules or paths, such as the steps of a formula or recipe. Conversely, a heuristic task demands that a way or pathway of handling the problem be invented (Taylor & Turner 2016). Therefore, creativity encompasses what needs to be done as well as the means of getting it done.
As noted earlier, Taylor and Turner (2016) have identified three frameworks that are relevant to our examining of relationships and creativity: 'creative context'; 'creative collaborations'; and creative groups and cultures'
Framework 1: ‘Creative Contexts’
Amabile (1983) has identified two forms of skills vital for creativity: creativity-relevant skills and domain-relevant skills. Creativity-relevant skills are general in nature and integrate work and play (Taylor & Turner 2016). In contrast, domain-relevant skills refer to the technical abilities and skills in regards to a definite area or field (Amabile 1983). Amabile contends that since we acquire all domain-relevant skills through training and education, these skills are socially acquired, as opposed to innate abilities. Amabile's theory of a creative person identifies the individual as being impacted on and influenced by the wider perspective that entails how such an individual relates with others. According to Amabile (1983), creativity is also affected by both intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivation, and cites both as having an impact on creativity.
The creative context identifies relationship as vital on account of how they affect an individual's creativity. The model thus retains the focus on the single individual. This has been faulted by Gl?veanu and Lubart (2014) who suggest the need to shift our focus on the study of creativity from ‘the space of the self’ to ‘a space of self-other relations’ (p. 39).
Framework 2: ‘Creative Collaborations’
In the creative context, Amabile is interested with that which influences individual creativity. In contrast, John-Steiner (2000) through his work on creative collaborations suggests that individuals tend to be more creative when working together on collaborations on partnerships. John-Steiner views creativity as encompassing joint or shared processes namely, that individuals are always working in collaboration, whether they realise it or not. For example, even people who work alone engage in collaboration by soliciting the opinions or ideas of others. Thus, John-Steiner (2000) opines that such creative outputs as inventions and ideas are not the products of one person but come about after an individual forge relationships with others.
Framework 3: 'Creative groups and cultures'
This particular framework hinges on the social identity theory (SIT) which suggests that we all belong to various groups , including groups made up of people that we are familiar with (for example, family and friends), as well as people we imagine, as opposed to meet, individually (Taylor & Turner 2016). The SIT theory thus identifies various relationships at play, such as those between a persons and a group, as well as between members of a group.
Similarities between frameworks
The three frameworks share certain similarities and differences. In terms of similarities, both the 'creative contexts' and 'creative groups and cultures' frameworks describe a creative individual. For example, Amabile's model of 'creative contexts' revolves around the idea that even though a person is removed from any wider social perspective, he/she is still influenced by it (Amabile 1983). The first framework views relationship as crucial in that they impact on an individual's creativity (Mason 2003). The 'creative groups and cultures' perspective also describes groups which function in a similar manner to the 'creative collaboration' in the second framework. The SIT describes collaboration between members of a group, in effect aiding in sharing ideas. This is yet another clear indication of collaboration. The third framework (and in particular, SIT) describes personal identity which is related to what Amabile discusses in the intrinsic motivation and personal interest under the first framework.
The first framework and the third framework further share another similarity in that Amabile in the first framework talks of dominant-relevant knowledge whose contents is similar to the group norms, values, and preferences to which SIT in the third framework refers to (Taylor & Turner 2016). Furthermore, SIT the in-group and out-group relationships as described by SIT under the third context shares similarities with Amabile's views on the creative contexts under the first framework. SIT adds to the complexity of the context that the first framework describes. In this case, SIT suggests that a change in group will also lead to a change in the context. Moreover, as individual and groups identities become salient, there is also a resultant change on individual influences.
In the first framework, Amabile (1983) identifies an individual's relationship with others as a vital component of any context, in that such relationships influence the motivation and skills needed to be creative. Similar sentiments have also been shared by John-Steiner (2000) in the second framework where he opines that individuals tend to be more creative when working together or collaborating with others in a partnership. In this sense, both of these contexts acknowledge that relationships have a positive impact on individual creativity.
Another similarity between the first and second frameworks is that the approaches adopted have been shown to stifle creativity. In the first framework, Amabile (1983) identifies training and education as vital in enhancing creativity, there is the risk that trainers, experts, and teachers could encourage individuals to produce work that is aligned to that which the domain promotes, as opposed to advocating for change and novelty. This could in effect suppress creativity. In the second framework, the collaboration and partnerships that John-Steiner (2000) promotes could as well stifle new ideas by excluding breakaway thinkers and rebels. This is because it is much easier to promote collaborations in case people are confined to standard norms and established ideas.
Differences between frameworks
The three frameworks though similar on various fronts, also share certain key differences. For example, in the first framework (creative context), Amabile is concerned with the skills responsible for individual creativity, as well as the relationships likely to reduce or increase a person's creativity. On the other hand, in the creative collaboration framework, John-Steiner reveals that partnerships are more useful for creativity. That is, an individual is more likely to be creative when he/she works in partnerships with others or collaborates with a group of like-minded individuals.
The three frameworks further differ in terms of their focus on creativity. Whereas in the first framework Amabile is more concerned with individual creativity, on the other hand, John-Steiner in the second framework explores the impact of relationships with others on individual creativity. Elsewhere, the third framework endeavours to explore how in-groups and out-groups are likely to influence creativity. Haslam et al. (2013) opines that in the case of salient group identity, the creative behaviour of members of such a group shall be influenced by ‘group values, preferences and norms’ (p. 386), as well as the hopes of the expected audience for whom the creative work is directed at. What this appears to suggest is that Amabile's (1983) focus on creativity is with respect to an individual and what motivates them (for example, intrinsic motivations and extrinsic motivations), whereas John-Steiner (2000) focuses on collaborations or relationships with others as a source of motivation for creativity. On the other hand, the third framework focuses on group membership as the focus for creativity, and notes that in-groups and out-groups influence creativity.
Based on the foregoing analysis, the three frameworks that Taylor and Truner (2016) examines on creativity and relationships share certain crucial similarities and differences. In terms of similarities, the first and second frameworks describe a creative individual and the influence of social perspectives on individual creativity. The creative collaboration as described by the second framework is also similar to the collaboration amongst members of a group as described by the third framework. The approaches adopted by the first and second frameworks are also associated with stifled creativity. On the other hand, the three frameworks differ in terms of their focus in creativity. Amabile focuses on individual creativity, while John-Steiner focuses on the effect of relationships on individual creativity. In contrast, the third framework examines the impact on in-groups and out-groups on creative behaviour.
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