Specific characteristics of the creative individual appear to be disparate and elusive.  Creativity takes many different forms, so attempting to define it can be an exercise in futility.  Does a creative artist display the same characteristics as a creative mathematician or scientist? In 1999, researchers Gruber and Wallace stated in their case study, “The necessary uniqueness of the creative person argues against efforts to reduce psychological description to a fixed set of dimensions.”  Rather, they ask how creativity works.

Having “talent” may help with creativity, but only if sufficient resources are available to develop that talent. “In fact, the creative act may be a slow and arduous reorganization of ideas, and the personality of the innovator may often be found in non-creative individuals.”  For example, Mozart had talent, but he also had family who could support it. He had a musician father who drove him relentlessly to develop that talent. Hence, from an early age, Mozart displayed persistence.  In 1962 Haefele indicated that persistence is  a crucial component of the creative process.

Some researchers maintain that while creativity might begin as a solitary endeavor, interaction with a community becomes important for fulfillment.  “Even the person far ahead of the times must have some community.” They cite Darwin and Einstein and Feynman as examples of their theory. While they worked alone to develop those theories, they also interacted with members of the scientific community, who provided feedback for ideas as well as different perspectives. In conclusion, in any human endeavor– the arts, humanities, science–creativity is the ability to find unique solutions to problems. 


Laura Maniglia