Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Making explicit the mental and personality relationships between the problem and solution.

Ever since my first day of courses in the creative studies program, I have noticed the struggle between logic and emotion that is tapped when a truly creative solution is developed. This graphic model is my own depiction of what I expect the relationships to be and helps me to understand the interdependency between the most crucial concepts discussed in courses. I treat key concepts as being distinct but related to a larger whole.

Before I continue, I have one main caveat. My background is in Communications, with an emphasis in Public Relations and Broadcasting, so there might be muddling and confusion of these concepts and their relationships. These relationships were identified during a reading log write up over chapter 1 of Runco's Creativity Theories and Themes: Research, Development and Practice in CRS 580. I offer this model up for discussion and debate for further modification.

At first the process of deriving solutions appears easy. Once a problem is found, a solution is enacted. However, the solution may not be the right one because a person had not considered affective side of a solution or he never considered the rationale behind his decision. It is notable that change initiatives that are based upon pure cognition or pure emotion result in failure. When based upon pure emotion, solutions will face challengers that will comment that how the solution was not well thought out; vice versa, solutions based on pure thought will counter resistance from people who feel the solution is "too cold". (Please take these following examples lightly) In recent politics for example, President Bush has been satirized by comedians for relying on "his gut" and not considering the consequences of his actions by the more intellectual Left. On the flip side, movements, such as Six Sigma, tend to frustrate people as being too logical and handling complex situation too simply. This comes from my personal experience as a son of a government employee who went through numerous black belt changes. When approaching a solution, there are two main routes: pure rationality expressed through cognition or pure emotion represented through affect. Granted that this is an oversimplification, but this distinction was identified by Jung when he identified the thinker and feeler types. Based upon this personality preference, a person will approach a problem in a very logical manner or have a gut feeling as to what the solution might be.

By making the distinction in the personality preference, one can identify the appropriate line of self-questioning that fits with a certain approach. For thinkers, meta-cognition addresses how they came to the thoughts that become a part of solution. For feelers, mindfulness should be able to clarifying why they felt what they felt. Under stress conditions, this might flip. Before arriving at a solution, there should be a balance struck between cognition and affect to develop a full understanding of the solution. The processes of Wallace's creative cognition cycle (preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification) appear here. In my limited exposure to Wallace's work, I get the impressions that incubation can be seen as the process of intuition and that illumination as the process of insight. Both processes to appear to be subconscious. Explanations of the incubation stage describe it as an "unconscious processing of information", which would benefit the feeler to develop their solutions and help them to rationalize their emotions. Essentially giving them a period of cooling off so that they can collect their thoughts and maybe identify important relationships they had not seen before. Explanations of illumination, or referred to as insight, describe it as the process of applying one domain's mental framework over another. At the end of the insight, it is accompanied by emotional catharsis. By allowing the processes of insight and intuition the time to develop, the following solution could be verified among peers.

Jung, C. G. (1933). Psychological types. New York: Harcourt.

Runco, M. A. (2006). Creativity: Theories and themes: Research, development, and practice. Burlington: Academic Press.

Wallas, G. (1926). The art of thought. New York: Harcourt.

-- Aaron Gilbee, Graduate Student

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