Illumination and Elbow Grease: A Theory of How Mental Models of the Creative Process Influence Creativity
Lucas, Brian; Mai, Ke Michael
How do people think creative ideas are generated? Anecdotally, people’s beliefs about the creative process seem to span the gamut of possible behaviors. The current research develops a framework for understanding beliefs about the creative process. We propose that people’s beliefs can be organized around two prominent mental models of the creative process (i.e., the Insight model and the Production model). Our framework describes how these mental models influence the prioritization of creative process behaviors (i.e., preparation-focus vs. production-focus) and subsequent idea output (i.e., novelty and feasibility). We discuss five expected patterns of performance (i.e., archetypal frames) that derive from considering which model(s) a worker holds and which model is dominant. We also discuss contextual factors that influence mental model activation. Our theory provides a framework for understanding how people think about creativity and identifies directions for future research.
creativity; performance; creative process; mental models; insight; productivity; creative process behaviors
Previously Published As
Lucas, B. J., & Mai, K. M. (2022). Illumination and elbow grease: A theory of how mental models of the creative process influence creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 168.
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