Defining a Creative Person

from Creativity 101 by James C. Kaufman, PhD

Posted 6/1/09 | Updated 5/6/23

Indeed, when you think of a creative person, who do you conjure up? Maybe you think of Van Gogh cutting off his ear and then painting a masterpiece. Or Alexander Fleming leaving a Petri dish out by mistake and discovering penicillin.

More recently, you might think of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs revolutionizing the way people communicate, work, and think. But other images of creativity may come closer to home: your daughter building a structure with her Legos, or your uncle spontaneously making up a pun.

Or maybe you on occasion may tinker with a new recipe, play guitar, create computer games, make funny faces, or tinker with new gadgets.

What do you think of when you think of a creative product or activity? Many people, for example, have received the spam e-mails from foreign countries in which someone writes of a "desire of going into a business relationship with you." His father died and left him a fortune, or she is the manager of a small bank trying to perform a large financial transaction.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars up for grabs, and they need your help to provide an account for the money and put up a few thousand bucks in up-front costs. It's nothing, really, compared to the money you will be making. As you have (hopefully) guessed, it's a scam. The plans get postponed, more officials need to be bribed, and so on, until they have bled you dry.

But here's the creative part: The other day I got an e-mail from the Antifraud Commission of Nigeria. They are busy prosecuting the nasty spammers and fraudsters and are suing them to compensate the victims.

Indeed, I stand to gain nearly $500,000 as a witness and plaintiff, if I can just pass along the court expenses and initial legal fees.

©2009 James C. Kaufman. All rights reserved.

Creativity 101

This series is based on "Defining Creativity" from Creativity 101 by James C. Kaufman, PhD. Excerpts reprinted with permission of Springer Publishing Company www.springerpub.com.

James C. Kaufman is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. ...