This book is not about how to be more creative, but rather presents current (1981) research on creativity and how new ideas come about. Each chapter looks at a psychological processes making up creativity. Starting with a proposition, Perkins then presents facts and arguments that result in a revised proposition that more accurately portrays how the mind works. For example in chapter two the initial proposition is "Mental leaps depend upon on extended unconscious thinking", then after arguing that the subconscious plays less of a role in creativity the revised proposition becomes "Extended unconscious thinking does not occur. Deferring a troublesome problem and returning to it later occasionally helps for reasons that have nothing to do with extended unconscious thinking." By delving into these processes, Perkins demystifies creativity into a skill that can be learned as a balance of imagination and analysis. Along the way to a more final proposition are short mental exercises that provide the reader experience with the ideas. For example, on "searching for" there is an exercise on perceptual hill climbing that involves trying to perceive drawings. There are surprises and myth busting in many chapters, such as dispelling that the left-brain is scientific and right intuitive. Some useful examples of creativity presented include Darwin's "discovery" of natural selection, and Albert Einstein on simplicity of evaluating an idea. The example of "Instant Zen", presented a paradoxical example of field-specific generalizations and use of heuristics: not only showing its power but its limits. Although not generally a "how to" book; the chapter on heuristics presents more definite methods such as SQ3R (Survey, question, read, recite, review) as a plan for reading.
Perkins dares to throw away laymen's theories about creativity, and supports his case with theoretical considerations as well as with examples from reality. Do not expect a simple book. Perkins discusses in great length scientific research in the creativity field, as opposed to the many "creativity cookbooks" you'll find.
As an freshman undergrad at the University of Connecticut in the spring of 1982 I took a psych course on the development of intelligence, epistemology. So I took a little trip to the Yale Bookstore, perhaps believing Yale's Bookstore might impart more knowledge than the same book from the UCONN Bookstore more like becuase of a girl or a bar, and found this little gem.
The processes he described had a major impact. To the degree that I decided to write my paper entirely about the creative though process using the creative processes as he descirbed. The paper was perhaps one of the best I ever wrote and help put me on the Dean's list for the first time; although it did cause some issues as I was pretty much under constant pressure from a certain professor to change my major to psychology, and school as well.
But I digress. I lost the book serveral years, perhpas more than two decades ago. But even today I still find myself employing the creative process for my most critical work tasks. So today I decided, time to reread this now dusty tome. Is it appropriate to use the word tome to describe a paperback?