Many writers have cited evidence concerning the relative independence of measures of intelligence and measures of creativity or imagination, especially when quality rather than fluency is considered. What, then, is the nature of these thinking abilities which are different from those assessed by tests of intelligence? What is creative thinking?
I have chosen to define creative thinking as the process of sensing gaps or disturbing, missing elements; forming ideas or hypotheses concerning them; testing these hypotheses; and communicating the results, possibly modifying and retesting the hypotheses. I have been quite willing to subsume in this definition the major features of most other definitions which have been proposed. Something new is included in all of them. Sir Frederick Bartlett employs the term of "adventurous thinking" which he characterizes as "getting away from the main track, breaking out of the mold, being open to experience, and permitting one thing to lead to another." Simpson defined creative ability as the initiative which one manifests by his power to break away from the usual sequence of thought into an altogether different pattern of thought. Concerning the problem of identification, he says that we must look for a searching, combing, synthetic type of mind. Such concepts as curiosity, imagination, discovery, innovation, and invention are prominent in discussions of the meaning of creativity.
In accepting this kind of definition of creativity, a variety of kinds of behavior are included. It is my opinion that we must continue to do this. By this, it is not meant that we should try to represent all of these abilities and∕or behaviors by any single index. Neither does it mean that we are now ready to establish a set of discreet abilities or pure factors.
In order to identify and measure the abilities involved in the creative process, it is necessary to understand the nature of the creative process. Many workers have sought to describe the process, and these descriptions show remarkable agreement. Most analysts identify four steps: preparation, incubation, illumination, and revision. Apparently the process flows something like the following. First, there is the sensing of a need or deficiency, random exploration, and a clarification or "pinning down" of the problem. Then ensues a period of preparation accompanied by reading, discussing, exploring, and formulating many possible solutions, and then critically analyzing these solutions for advantages and disadvantages. Out of all this comes the birth of a new idea -- a flash of insight, illumination. Finally, there is experimentation to evaluate the most promising solution for eventual selection and perfection of the idea. Such an idea may find embodiment in inventions, scientific theories, improved products or methods, novels, musical composition, paintings, or new designs.
The creative thinking abilities presumed to be involved in creative thinking. The emphasis in measurement has been on the product rather than the process. Because of the nature of the creative process and of the limitations of testing situations, only rare attempts have been made to assess the process.