Relevance as a central determinant for creative work

While it is widely acknowledged that novelty is a major component in creative endeavours, producing work that is new, singular or unconventional is not enough for the effort to be termed creative.

Many practitioners agree that an important characteristic of creative work is that what is produced is also relevant and valuable in its wider context.

Read: A Prelude to Creativity

Following this agreement, Cropley (1999:512) concludes that creativity can be defined as “the production of relevant and effective solutions”.

Bernbach (n.d., as cited in Moriarty & Robbs, 1999:27) is quoted to have said that:

“Merely to let your imagination run riot, to dream unrelated dreams, to indulge in graphic acrobatics and verbal gymnastics is not being creative.”

Kaufman (2009:20) in particular recounts a story of how in a class where students were asked what they wanted to become when they grew older, one student said he wanted to be “a sandwich”.

Read: What Creativity is not

He argues that such a response is certainly original – in that most children may want to eat sandwiches but not be ones themselves – but it fails to meet the conditions of appropriateness and relevance.

Stressing the importance of relevance, and not just that of originality, Eysenck (1995:36) commented that:

“Originality in itself is not enough to be considered creative. A psychotic person’s responses are original, in the sense of unusual, but they are hardly ever creative; they lack relevance.”

Relevance as a central determinant to creativity


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