Research Insights On Creativity

What do studies show, and how can you improve your creative thinking?

Photo of John Cabra
John Cabra »
Professor Emeritus and Creativity Researcher

Creativity and innovation researcher John Cabra shares insights on what the research literature tells us about creative thinking.




An Overview Of Creativity Research

John gives us an introduction to the study of creativity, how it is structured, and how we engage in the scientific exploration of creative thinking and creativity.

The Value Of Adapting

John elaborates on the value of adapting, which schools, he argues, neglect to recognize and teach. Costa and John dig further into the challenges students face in school when it comes to creative thinking.

Frameworks For Understanding Creativity

Mel Rhodes originally conceptialized the four P's of creativity, including product, people, press, and process. John elaborates on the four P's, and goes beyond mentioning our teammate Izzy's 5th P, purpose, and Vlad Glăveanu's concept of affordances.

Measure Your Creativity Now

Follow along as Costa and John explore a tool for measuring divergent thinking ability, one aspect of creativity. Feel free to pause and take the assessment first at Then, listen along as John explains the usefulness of assessments, how they may fall short, and how to utlize them without accepting their results as too harshly.

Use Training To Improve Your Creativity

Costa walks through how to use training to improve your divergent thinking skills. Follow along and see how much you can increase your score using the techniques Costa presents. In this case, going from the 27th percentile to the 98th.

Where Do You Get Your Best Ideas?

John explores what most people share when asked where they get their best ideas. The concept he describes is typically called incubation or working subconsciously on a challenge, contrasting that with the purposeful, cognitive techniques Costa had shared prior.

Jazz, Creativity, And Neuroscience

John shares a little bit of the neuroscience work happening in creativity, including putting Jazz musicians in brain scanning machines, showing how the executive functions of the brain dim when improvisation is happening.

Three Components Needed For Creativity

Creativity researcher Teresa Amabile presented three components needed to make creative achievments: Domain-relevant skills, creativity-relevant processes, and intrinsic task motivation. John explains the model, and associates Ruth Noller's formula for creativity and a few other related studies and insights.

Knowledge Is A Double-Edge Sword

John shares a surprising insight, that extensive knowledge can actually hinder creativity. As you develop knowledge, you amass a variety of assumptions, which are useful, but put up blinders to alternative views. Sometimes, bringing in a provocateur to shake things up can help tremendously. Our friend, Dr. Lee Cronin, for example.

Unknowns In Creativity Research

What don't we know about creativity? Surely, there are open questions, and discoveries left to make. John takes us on a journey to understand consciousness. Strap in tight for this one!

Self-Imposed Constraints

What happens when you filter your ideas? John describes how people limit their own creative abilities as they screen or select their ideas, and specifically the affects of anger and fear.

How Research Makes An Impact

John shares a few stories that show how creativity research has made a major impact in the world, going so far as providing transformative potential in education systems, and nation-level change.

One Thing You Can Do Today

John shares his advice on what you can do to nurture and improve your creativity, beginning with increasing your awareness of how you use language. If you speak a certain way, you begin to think a certain way, and that provides a point of leverage to think in more creative ways.

Before The Flash Of Insight

John shares insights from John (Drexel)'s research on what happens before the flash of insight, we all know from the "Aha!" moments we've experienced.

Find John Online!

Find John on Twitter @JohnCabra, on his LinkedIn page, and check out John's book, Organizational Creativity: A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs.