Reflections on Cropley’s Definitions of creativity, Richards’ Everyday creativity, and Richards’ Everyday creativity and the arts

Creativity is part of human life and it may be a part of existence on earth whether it is human or not, but that is a conversation and a debate for a later day.  Human beings, and this is my view, have an innate and vital need to create, whether it is procreation or some other form of artistic creativity, it is a need that is basic to all of us.  In this, I obviously differ from Cropley (2011) who views definitions of creativity that include everything that I would, except the sex act and procreation (though for some that can be terribly pedestrian).  Cropley understand the creative process, however, and includes everything from problem-solving to art.

While Cropley discusses creativity at a depth that I don’t have room for here, there are few ideas that discusses that I would like to respond to.  He mentions that several researchers have confirmed the role of knowledge in creativity.  On page 361 (Cropley, 2011) states that many researchers and inventors build upon already existing research.  Ellul (1964) makes the same statement.  In other words, nothing new has been discovered or developed outside of refining already existing science and technology.  This would primarily explain the convention of relying upon and citing previous in academic papers each and every time a bold statement is made (for example, Ellul, 1964 and Cropley, 2011).  But it doesn’t make for good creativity and it doesn’t make for good science when more and more academic journals and “researchers” are being cited for research forgeries just to “achieve the results” that are desired (Alleyne, 2009).  While this may be due to the whole publish-or-perish-requirement dilemma, it may also be due to pressure to rely on previous research that may not exist.  I have no evidence here; I am merely speculating.  However, what if researchers, whether natural or social scientists, discovered completely new technologies, developed or discovered new ideas or paradigms that have no reference to previous research, and it was necessary to rely upon observation, trial and error, deduction, or a shift in paradigms that would force a reevaluation of prior research and facts.  What then; what would that look like (Kuhn, 1970).

Richards (2011), on the other hand, tackles a topic a little closer to most, everyday creativity, a topic I can relate to in my personal life.  Interestingly, he opens with the common plaintive cry that one can’t draw or paint, that they aren’t creative.  When I return to my statement above regarding the fact that everyone is creative, I doubt Richards would disagree.  I don’t make fine art yet, but it is on my list as is African drum lessons.  In the meantime, I have made music mixes for my Internet radio website, and I write.  She cites two criteria for everyday creativity, originality and meaningfulness.  Depending upon how strict or open one’s definitions of those terms are, creativity covers a fairly wide swath of what I do, even in this paper, attempt to put words together in the hopes that something wonderfully profound or poetic (not in a pentametric sense) happens.  Sometimes it does and the words just pour out.  However, I will take issue with his idea that, in some instances, dis-ease, in this case, so called people afflicted with bipolar disorder, can sometimes exhibit noticeably more creativity.  I take issue with the idea that there is a “normal” and a “not normal” or “dis-eased” person.  This perpetuates the age-old idea that one has to be mentally disordered in some way to be creative.  This flawed idea would also apply to alcoholism.

Richards (2007) also tackled everyday creativity and the arts, forcing us to stop separating eminent creativity from everyday creativity, as if the creative output of a well-known artist is somehow more valuable and important than someone who is not.  As I read and write this, I have to stop, consider all of the creative friends that I have in disparate locations all over the globe and ask, is their work less good, less culturally valuable, less important?  I also have to consider artists who were not discovered until after death, having been discovered and exhibited in museums to showcase their simplicity or profundity.  While Richards explores this idea in detail, that we all can be creative and that the world is changing and the ideas of creativity are changing with it, I am hopeful.  When I grew up, I had to fight for a small section of turf to call my own when creativity was writing, a lot of reading that was frowned upon, a lot of music listening that wasn’t appreciated, and some drawing.  That turf was held as if my life depended on it.  Realizing that creativity is something that is necessary to all of us, my life did depend upon holding that turf.



Alleyne, R. (2009, June 4). Scientists faking results and omitting unwanted findings in research. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Cropley, A. J. (2011). Definitions of creativity. In M. A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity (2nd ed., pp. 358-368). Burlington, MA: Academic Press. DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-375038-9.00237-5.

Ellul, J. (1967). The technological society. New York, NY: Vintage books.

Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Evolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Richards, R. (2007). Everyday creativity and the arts. World Futures, 63, 500-525. DOI 10.1080/02604020701572707.

Richards, R. (2011). Everyday creativity. In M. A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity (2nd ed., pp. 468-475). Burlington, MA: Academic Press. DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-375038-9.00237-5.




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