Albert Einstein referred to creativity as combinatory play, the process of intuitively pulling together bits of disparate information, sparks of intuition, knowledge and snippets of memory. It was his view that when a person approaches a task trusting their intuition, and not their intellect, they are more likely to create something interesting and original.
Psychologist Frank Barron, an early pioneer of research on creativity, conducted a landmark study of creative people including writers, artists, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs. He found the common personality traits were –
- Openness to exploring one’s internal world
- A preference for working with complexity and ambiguity
- A high tolerance for disorder and chaos
- Independence and unconventional thinking
Creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihaly defines creative people as those who discover problems, compared to the majority of people, who solve the problems that have already been discovered by creative people. His research finds that the most creative people start with only a general and vague sense of a problem or idea, then create something new in response to it.
Interview with Val Andrews (about 8 minutes in)