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The Creative Process: The Effects of Domain Specific Knowledge and Creative Thinking Techniques on Creativity

As we move further into the 21st century there are few processes that are more important for us to understand than the creative process. The aim of this thesis is to assist in deepening that understanding. To achieve this a review of the literature is first undertaken. Combining the many different streams of research from the literature results in the development of a four-stage model of the creative thinking process. The four stages are problem definition, idea generation, internal evaluation, and idea expression. While a large range of factors influence the various stages in this model, two factors are identified for further analysis as their effect on creativity is unclear. These two factors are domain-specific knowledge and creative thinking techniques. The first of these factors relates to the first stage of the creative thinking process (problem definition), specifically the extent to which informational cues prime domain specific knowledge that then sets the starting point for the creative combination process. The second factor relates to stage two of the model (idea generation), and the proposition by some researchers and practitioners that creative output can be significantly improved through the use of techniques. While the semantics of these techniques differ, fundamentally all techniques encourage the use of divergent thinking by providing remote associative cues as the basis for idea generation. These creative thinking techniques appear to result in the opening of unusual memory categories to be used in the creative combination process. These two potential influences on the creative outcomes of individuals: 1) domain specific knowledge, and 2) creative thinking techniques, form the basis for an experimental design. Qualitative and quantitative research is undertaken at two of the world's leading advertising agencies, and with two student samples, to identify how creative thinking techniques and domain-specific knowledge, when primed, influence creative outcomes. In order to measure these effects a creative thinking measurement instrument is developed. Results found that both domain-specific knowledge and creative thinking techniques are key influences on creative outcomes. More importantly, results also found interaction effects that significantly extend our current understanding of the effects of both primed domain-specific knowledge and creativity techniques on different sample populations. Importantly, it is found that there is no 'one size fits all' for the use of creative thinking techniques, and to be effectively applied, creative thinking techniques must be developed based upon the respondent's current domain and technique expertise. Moreover, the influence of existing domain-specific knowledge on individual creativity is also dependent upon how that information is primed and the respondent's knowledge of cognitive thinking strategies.
Type of thesis
Kilgour, A. M. (2007). The Creative Process: The Effects of Domain Specific Knowledge and Creative Thinking Techniques on Creativity (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2566
The University of Waikato
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