Lay Theories of Creativity

  • Simone M. Ritter
  • Eric F. Rietzschel


Creativity is of great appeal and importance to people, and they strive to understand creativity by developing lay theories. Such lay theories about creativity concern, for example, the characteristics of creative persons, such as the ‘mad genius’ idea, or environmental factors that contribute to creative performance, such as ‘group brainstorming.’ Many lay theories about creativity are completely false, and some are only partly correct. Given the importance of creativity for all domains of life, including diverse endeavors such as science, art, technology, design, sports, and medicine, we cannot afford to let lay theories guide our creative efforts without empirical scrutiny. In the current chapter, we therefore describe lay beliefs related to characteristics of the creative person, the skills and processes that are needed to achieve creativity, environments that supposedly stimulate or hinder creativity, and the properties of creative output and behavior, and critically appraise these beliefs in light of what creativity research has shown.


Creativity Creative person Creativity enhancement Creative process Creative product Creativity myth Lay theory Lay belief Stereotypes 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioural Science InstituteRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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