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creativity types

Kerrie Unsworth (is a Professor at Leeds University Business School, interested in studying motivation, creativity, pro-environmental behaviours and well-being), poposed in “Unpacking creativity” (2001) that there was more than just raw intelligence that influenced the creativie process. She argues that context was just as important of a factor of creativity as cognitive ability was. Looked two aspects of context: the problem type and motivation.

Closed problems: are instances when a problem is clearly.

Open problems: must be discovered and searched for.

Using the different types of motivation and problems, Unsworth created a matrix that broke down creativity into four arch-types.


Responsive Creativity

  • Most prevalent form of creativity studied
  • Individuals do a previously set creativity problema or task and complete it given the external demands and requirements
  • Individual has the least control over problema solving choice
  • We decide to create mor efficient ways for making it for management

Expected Creativity

  • External goal or outcome with a selfdiscovered solutions selected by the problema solvers
  • Select from a set the particular problems/ issues about which they will think creatively and conbribute their responses
  • Open Managenement want us to find ways of making it

Contributory Creativity

  • Individuals self-determined and based upon a problem clearly formulated by others
  • Individuals who elect to engage in creativity to help solve problems with which they are not directly involved
  • We want to discover way fo making it for ourselves

Proactive Creativity

  • Individuals think creatively about open ended issues and problems that interest them
  • Individuals spontaneously provide creative proposals that were not requested
  • Difficult but important to assess

Implication of this analysis for creative thinking is that the types of creative thinking in several ways, the creative process may change depending upon the type of creativity:

Creative is more constrained, when they are engaging in creative thinking for external reasons and are doing tasks or problems that are more closed.

Creative will be stronger, when requiring more effort (proactive and contributory creativity) than for types requiring more effort (responsive and expected creativity)

Relationship between motivation and creativity will be stronger for those types requiring more effort (proactive and contributory)


  • Unsworth, K, “Unpacking creativity”, The Academy of Management Review, 26, (2) 286-297, 2001
  • Wikipedia

Links relationated:

  • Kerrie Unsworth

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