Is the Lightbulb Still On? Social Representaitons of Creativity in a Western Context

Vlad Petre Glaveanu

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The present article aims to explore the social representations of creativity in a Western cultural context. In doing so it starts by addressing the theoretical bases for such an investigation and especially the more developed literature on implicit theories of creativity. Contributions of the social representations approach are discussed, in particular the mechanisms of anchoring and objectification and processes of thematisation. The empirical research was based on an on-line survey and the analysis included 106 responses, mainly from participants living in the US and the UK. The questionnaire employed both closed and open-ended questions concerning: a) common creativity symbols; b) existing dichotomies about the nature of creativity, and c) self-evaluations of creativity. Participants were first asked to think of what would be the best creativity symbol for them and to rate and comment on eight symbols emerging out of a pre-study of Google Images. Findings indicate that current representations of creativity are complex and multifaceted and the strongest association present was between creativity and the arts (especially symbols like paintbrush and colour, children’s drawings, etc.). This has several important practical implications for how creativity is understood, recognised and legitimated in everyday contexts.
TidsskriftThe International Journal of Creativity & Problem Solving
Udgave nummer1
StatusUdgivet - 2011


  • Creativity
  • Art
  • Symbols
  • Implicit theories
  • Social representations