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Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention Paperback – June 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0060171339 ISBN-10: 0060171332 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060171332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060171339
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on interviews with 91 internationally recognized creative people-among them Nobel physicist John Bardeen, arts administrator-performer Kitty Carlisle Hart, writer Denise Levertov, jazz musician Oscar Peterson, electronics executive Robert Galvin-this book offers a highly readable anatomy of creativity. As Csikzentmihalyi (Flow) argues, creativity requires not only unusual individuals, but a culture and field of experts that can foster and validate such work. Most creative people, the author suggests, have dialectic personalities: smart yet naive, both extroverted and introverted, etc. Expanding on his previous book, Csikszentmihalyi suggests that complex and challenging work exemplifies fully engaged "flow." Synthesizing study results, he reports that none of the interviewees was popular during adolescence; while they were not necessarily more brilliant than their college peers, they displayed more "concentrated attention." Later, they kept a consistent focus on future work. The author reminds us that while individuals can make their own opportunities, a supportive society offering resources and rewards can foster creativity. His advice may sound like homilies-"Try to be surprised by something every day"-but is often worthy.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Bringing together 30 years of research, Csikszentmihalyi (psychology, Univ. of Chicago) describes this book as "an effort to make more understandable the mysterious process by which men and women come up with new ideas and new things." Utilizing the interviews garnered from 91 respondents (ranging from philosopher Mortimer Adler to biologist Edward O. Wilson to politician Eugene McCarthy), the author of the best-selling Flow (LJ 3/15/90) demonstrates the processes that these acknowledged creative thinkers and doers go through and the characteristics that make them stand out. He deals with what makes them and others like them "creative"?which he defines as "a process by which a symbolic domain in the culture is changed"?and how the conduct of their professional and personal lives illustrates these traits. Csikszentmihalyi also deals with creativity and aging and ways to enhance one's own personal creativity. Although the benefits of this study to scholars are obvious, this thought-provoking mixture of the scholarly and colloquial will enlighten inquisitive general readers, too. A welcome addition to both academic and public libraries.?David M. Turkalo, Suffolk Univ. Law Sch. Lib., Boston
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor at Claremont Graduate University and former chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. His previous books include The Evolving Self and the national bestseller Flow.

Customer Reviews

Very interesting and detailed book.
Phillip Ayoub
If you are interested in how to motivate a person to become more creative, this book is an excelent option !
wflorio
A frustrating and exclusionary take - much too narrow for me.
smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

169 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Arete on March 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Creativity" provided an outstanding analysis of how Creativity occurs, and how creative individuals have influenced their respective fields and domains of knowledge and arts through the analysis of over ninety creative individuals of note. This book provides an outline of the process that is useful to any person who is attempting to enhance organizational or personal creativity, and details the components of Creativity (which can influence the overall culture) and creativity (for an individual.) I read my copy twice, and found certain topics so useful, I violated my own rule of never marking in a book. This book is now heavily annotated and underlined, and has been shared with friends. Following is a very brief summary.
The components of creativity include domains, fields, and persons. A domain is defined as, "a set of symbolic rules and procedures," such as mathematics. A field "includes all the individuals who act as gatekeepers to the domain." This can be summarized as, "Creativity occurs when a person, using the symbols of a given domain such as music, engineering, business, or mathematics, has a new idea or sees a new pattern, and when this novelty is selected by the appropriate field for inclusion into the relevant domain."
The book presents an analysis of the impact of creativity by taking a systems approach with the following major components: Creative individuals, through understanding of their field, hard work, and inspiration can produce novel work. This work may or may not impact the overall field and domain, depending upon a variety of interrelated factors.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Bill Bazik on January 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Few activities are a misunderstood by the general public as inventing and creativity. Sadly, Hollywood and television often portray the great inventor, scientist or musician as some sort of "mad genius". This book seeks to put the study of creativity on a rational basis.

For the purposes of this book, creativity is defined as "... to bring into existence something genuinely new that is valued enough to be added to the culture". Ninety-one noted contemporary people have been systematically interviewed. While only two -- Jacob Rabinow and Frank Offner -- are full-blown inventors, their creative processes have a fascinating similarity to the composers, architects, astronomers, biologists and others interviewed.

The book does not just quote the people interviewed, but cites their views regarding various facets of the creativity process.

Jacob Rabinow (200 patents in diverse areas) believes most original thinkers share three common traits -- 1) their curiosity, from early childhood, results in acquiring a great deal of information, 2) they enjoy thinking up and combining ideas, and 3) they recognize their "good" ideas and don't hesitate to discard "junk" ideas.

Frank Offner (first electronic controls for jet engines and developer of the only successful heat-homing missiles in World War II) notes that while a "solid grounding in physical sciences" is an asset, knowledge from other fields may trigger a creative person's mind to override what is assumed to be true in one field. He also feels the love or joy of solving problems is a key to finding solutions. This fun aspect is so strong that Rabinow is quoted as saying that, given a choice between money-making and fun, he would go for the fun.

Creative people are sometimes thought to be arrogant.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By "mjd123" on May 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
AN INTERESTING, IMPORTANT SUBJECT
When you think about it, creativity is a key driver for personal fulfillment and world events- yet most people's understanding consists merely of stereotypes, assumptions, and clichés. There is a lot to know about creativity: what it is (and how it differs from talent and brilliance), conditions that encourage its emergence, creative people's complex personality traits, and what a creative experience looks and feels like. I would not rate `Creativity' as high as Csikszentmihalyi's `Flow'- which is an even more important concept to understand- yet it is certainly an informative, well-written, and recommended book.
BOOK IN A NUTSHELL
Research in psychology has traditionally learned about healthy individuals by focusing on pathological cases; this study examines the other end of the continuum- looking at extraordinary people to find out what might be missing from our lives. Trends in the personal histories and habits are taken from interviews with 91 leading contributors (Noble Prize winners, world renown artists, etc.) who have created or dominated their fields. Mainstream creative people (e.g. most creative person in an office or community) and uncreative people are not really discussed in the book- although the insights gained from the interviews may be applicable. Part 3 was not as strong as the rest of the book: the in-depth illustrations of the creative process were somewhat redundant, and some sections (Ch. 12 & 13) seemed to drift into assumptions of political philosophies.
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